Four Brothers to Deploy Together, Write It Down

By Paul X. Rutz

Clockwise from top left) Army Reserve Maj. Matt Holbert, Capts. David and Carlton Holbert, and Lt. Col. Buddy Holbert pose together prior to their mobilization. The four brothers will deploy to Iraq soon as part of the 108th Division.

DoD Photo

Four brothers, all Army Reserve officers, are deploying to Iraq with the same division and are planning to chronicle their experiences in a forthcoming book.

The book’s working title is "An American Story — The Holbert Family: Four Brothers Who Serve." Its publisher, Linda Dennis, hopes to tell the story of the whole family’s struggles as Buddy, Matt, David and Carlton begin their year in Iraq with the 108th Division (Institutional Training).

"Originally we had started a book with general essays from a whole bunch of soldiers," Dennis said. Then "the Holberts stepped forward, with all four going, and it has gone from a collection of essays to kind of a story about their family."

Dennis is president of "Connect and Join," an Internet-based communications company providing a forum for military families to keep in touch when their loved ones deploy. She said she felt humbled meeting the Holberts and seeing the contribution they are making for the country. "As we got to know them over a couple-month time period, it became real obvious this is a very unique family," she said. "This is the family we think of as ‘the American family.’"

The book, which Dennis hopes to publish in June, will contain journals and essays written by each member of the family: the four brothers, as well as their parents, wives, sisters, and children. She said the family has already written some essays and described their words as "very powerful."

"It’s all about freedom and serving your country and doing what’s right and how you raise kids the right way," she said.

The oldest brother, Lt. Col Buddy Holbert, is a 44-year-old graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. He said the family feels grateful to Dennis for recognizing them and expressed his amazement that someone would want to publish their words. "We wrote some little … bios on ourselves and had a couple of pictures taken, and I understand that someone wants to consider that as essays for a book," he said. "I can’t say they’re written well enough for that, but that’s what I’m hearing."

The Holbert brothers reported to their home station in Charlotte, N.C., Feb. 28. Buddy said the nature of their jobs will require all four brothers to mobilize about a month before most of the 108th Division.

Buddy commands the 3rd Battalion, 518th Regiment (Basic Combat Training), based in Hickory, N.C. He said he will go with a "leader element" for a one-month special training course in California to learn more about Iraqi culture. After that, he’ll go on a coordination trip to Iraq for two to three weeks before coming back to Fort McCoy, Wis., to receive the division’s main body. Once he arrives in Iraq, Buddy said, he will likely be based in Baghdad, while most of the 108th Division will have positions throughout the country.

The three younger brothers, all assigned to the Foreign Army Training Command’s tactical operations center, will head to their mobilization station at Fort McCoy March 4 to help set up shop before the main group arrives for about 70 days of pre-deployment training.

Capt. David Holbert, a 40-year-old graduate of Winthrop University, serves in the unit’s security and intelligence branch. He enlisted in the South Carolina Army National Guard directly out of high school and served for more than five years before being commissioned as an officer. With 23 years in the military, David has served the longest of the four brothers.

Maj. Matt Holbert, a 36-year-old graduate of the Citadel military college in Charleston, S.C., serves as personnel officer for the operation. He and his wife, Laura, have one daughter, Sharon, 5, and one son, Clark, 3.

Capt. Carlton Holbert, 32, also a graduate of the Citadel, serves in the unit’s operations branch. He and his wife, Karen, have one daughter, Reilly, 4.

Buddy and his wife, Tracy, have a daughter, Nicole, 25, and two sons, Bud, 17, and Jordan, 10 months.

On Feb. 25, the Holbert family gathered in Rock Hill, S.C., their hometown, for a going-away dinner. Buddy described the mood as "happy and picking on each other," and he said he enjoyed the chance to honor his parents. "We owe a lot of our patriotism and values to our parents, they pointed us in the right direction as we were growing up," he said.

Those traditions have carried all four Holbert brothers through their careers and will help them when they deploy, he said. "I think we all have it in our hearts and in our blood," Buddy said. "Even though we have civilian jobs, we always have the values of the Army and the country at the forefront. Even if we weren’t paid, I think that we would still do what we do. It’s just something that we feel is our duty."