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    Two Brothers, Two Valleys: Gingrich brothers answer call to serve

    Two Brothers, Two Valleys: Gingrich brothers answer call to serve

    Photo By Capt. Jason Beck | U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Taylor A. Gingrich, a platoon leader with Company A, 1st Battalion,...... read more read more



    Story by Capt. Jason Beck 

    Combined Joint Task Force 1 - Afghanistan

    BAGRAM, Afghanistan – Once again the Gingrich boys answered the call to serve their country in combat.

    The pair, Capt. Garrett H. Gingrich, commander of Company C, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, from Waterloo, Iowa, and 2nd Lt. Taylor A. Gingrich, a platoon leader with Company A, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment from Cedar Falls, Iowa, both part of Task Force Ironman, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, Task Force Red Bulls, previously served alongside one another in Iraq for 22 months – the National Guard’s longest deployment since World War II.

    At the time, Garrett was a second lieutenant with the same company he now commands; Taylor, served as a combat medic for Company B, 1st Bn. 133rd Inf. Regt.

    Separated by roughly 15 miles, the brothers now serve in two of the most demanding provinces in northeastern Afghanistan. Garrett is based out of Forward Operating Base Kalagush in Nuristan Province, which borders Pakistan and operates near the Alingar Valley. Taylor is based out of Combat Outpost Najil in Laghman Province, which borders Nuristan to the southwest. Taylor mainly operates in the Alishang Valley.

    It's a long way from the small town of Dysart, Iowa, where the brothers were raised.

    “My family and I grew up in Dysart, Iowa. Where we are from, it’s all small-town farming communities,” said Taylor.

    “If anyone needed any help with manual labor, they would always come and ask for the Gingrich boys.”

    Both brothers credit their parents for setting the standard and passing along a strong work ethic. Deb, their mother, is the director for an emergency room back in Iowa and their father, Craig, serves in the same hospital as a paramedic.

    “Mom is the epitome of a leader,” said Taylor. “It takes a strong-willed woman to run an E.R.”

    As for his father, Taylor said, “Dad is now 60 and works harder than both me and Garrett.”

    Garrett added, “Among the values our parents passed along were do the right thing and get to know people.”

    For Taylor, doing the right thing means not cutting corners. “You can never cut corners; as leaders we must do the right thing every time to ensure the safety of our Soldiers and the citizens here in our area of operations,” said Taylor.

    On a recent mounted convoy to Mehtar Lam, Taylor dismounted elements of his platoon to clear several danger zones of improvised explosive devices. Though no IEDs were found, he admitted it must be done every time. “You cannot let the enemy dictate your next move. I will dismount every time, because the one time you don’t is the one time you may end up losing a Soldier due to complacency.”

    Those same values are what Garrett said served him well in a recent conflict in the village of Do Ab, which is located approximately 15 miles north of FOB Kalagush. Over the course of about seven hours, Garrett and approximately 40 U.S. service members and 20 of their Afghan counterparts thwarted an ambush and killed more than 200 insurgent fighters. It was the largest conflict for the Iowa National Guard’s “Red Bulls”, since World War II.

    Garrett said his unit could not have done what they did that day in Do Ab if they had not gotten to know their Afghan counterparts and trusted one another to do the right thing.

    “It is part of our mission to develop strong relationships with the Afghan National Army, the Afghan National Police and others here in order to support them establish security,” said Garrett.

    “As for my own leaders,” Garrett continued, “I trust them to make the right decision, because I know them, understand how they think and see them do it every day.”

    Both brothers call and keep up with one another as much as possible - sometimes seeking advice, others times just to make sure the other is all right.

    “When Garrett was up in Do Ab, I monitored the situation here at COP Najil; needless to say, I was worried,” said Taylor.

    “I’m always concerned. Both valleys are not completely safe. My concern is for my Soldiers and my brother,” said Garrett. “Both companies have been through a lot. I will be relieved when my Soldiers are able to return home and Taylor leaves here as well.”

    Garrett knows the dangers of combat all too well. During his previous deployment to Iraq, one of his Soldiers was killed.

    “When we were in Iraq, Garrett lost one of his squad leaders to small-arms fire. Garrett still wears a bracelet with the Soldier’s name on it. We still pray for that Soldier and his family every Thanksgiving and Christmas,” said Taylor. “I saw how it changed Garrett, and I hope I don’t have to go through the same thing.”

    Garrett has passed a lot of what he has learned on to his younger brother, Taylor.

    “Garrett has been a mentor for me. If I have questions, I call him,” said Taylor. “He is why I became an infantry officer; I’m his biggest fan.”

    But, just as much as Garrett has been a mentor for Taylor, so too has Taylor been one for Garrett.

    “I am proud of Taylor. He has truly established himself as an outstanding leader in his platoon,” said Garrett. “As we’ve grown older, we’ve gotten a lot closer. He is as much of a role model for me.”

    Both Garrett and Taylor say serving together in combat has made things easier.

    “It’s easier doing a lot of the things I do here, because I know my brother is here with me sucking it up too,” said Taylor.

    “Being deployed together has changed us; we’ve gone through the same things and have grown a lot closer,” said Garrett.



    Date Taken: 06.26.2011
    Date Posted: 06.25.2011 18:02
    Story ID: 72741

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