Brothers united in mischief, recently united in service
A brotherly bond that inspired mischief when they were children inspired Florence residents Larry, Clint, and Andrew Weber to join the National Guard and serve their country.
The three Weber boys were always close, mother Mashawn Weber said. They kept a rotation of their bedrooms. Two boys would be roommates while the other would be temporarily exiled in the smaller room. Eventually, the oldest brother, Andrew, was permanently stationed in the big room and decided which one of his brothers he could stand that week.
Separated by only four years of age, the three brothers always hung out together — hunting, fishing, or setting off fireworks.
One week, when they were supposed to be attending Sunday school, the Webers took off to go hunting.
“We just didn’t want to go today,” they told Mashawn.
The Fourth of July was their favorite holiday. The Webers would break Florence city code to launch massive, homemade fireworks inside the city limits.
“Are those boys at it again?” a concerned neighbor once asked Mashawn over the phone. “My windows just rattled.”
Once, the Webers purchased a trampoline. The brothers positioned the elastic launching pad next to their house. They then executed the plan of climbing out of a second story window and then jumping from the porch roof onto the trampoline. They asked their parents to watch their high jinks, oblivious to the trouble they would soon find.
However, they could not stay boys forever. Larry, the middle brother, now 26, joined the National Guard in April 2006.
He completed basic training at Fort Bliss, Texas. His parents attended the basic training graduation and brought Clint, 24, to support his brother. Clint was impressed with the respect military personnel were given around the base. He saw the pride that Larry carried after accomplishing the goal of graduating.
“Clint wanted what Larry had,” Mashawn said.
Although he was the first to join the National Guard, Larry was the only one of the three brothers to stay in the U.S. Larry was soon called to work in disaster relief after Hurricane Katrina. He left the National Guard with an honorable discharge two months later.
After graduating from basic training at Fort Sill, Okla., in 2007, Clint was deployed to Iraq. He worked in an armory but said he was never far from fighting.
“You know it’s there but you tend to ignore it,” Clint said. “You still take safety precautions.”
Andrew joined the National Guard a few months later in January 2008, after he married his wife, Chelsea, in Las Vegas. Now a sergeant, Andrew is currently serving in Iraq. Despite Clint’s efforts, the brothers did not serve together at the same time.
When he was back in Florence, preparing for a second tour, Clint requested to return to Iraq to be with his older brother. He was instead sent to camp Lemonier in Djibouti, Africa.
“I just want to be with my brother,” Mashawn recalls Clint saying.
Clint drove Humvees and trucks and was part of the quick response team that provides security for emergency personnel at the scenes of accidents in Djibouti.
Andrew is serving his second tour in Iraq. In between tours, his son Tucker, 8 months old, was born.
While service in the National Guard is a common interest among Weber brothers, it has also kept them apart in separate countries.
It is rare that the three brothers have been in Florence at the same time, but April 22, for Easter, they were all together. Clint wanted to surprise his family by not telling them he was coming home for good, his tour ending in April. He did tell Chelsea. However, Andrew also took rest and recuperation time that weekend and told no one he would be home.
Although they are separated by thousands of miles of land and ocean, Andrew is never far from Clint’s mind. Since he is back in Florence, Clint has seen his nephew, Tucker, several times and has offered to do anything for Andrew’s wife and son.
“I hope they’re as close as they were,” Mashawn said of her sons. “They used to be.”