View Full Version : Visitors stir military pride in Hobert family

04-07-06, 05:57 PM
Visitors stir military pride in Hobert family
By Mark Wicks, Managing Editor

Wendell Hobert couldn’t be prouder.

The former World War II Navy man had the flags flying and the ribbons tied outside in the front lawn of his Charles City home to welcome his grandsons, Brian and Brad Milton, as they paid him and his wife, Phyllis, a three-day visit this week.

“I’d be happier if they were electricians,” joked Wendell, the retired owner of Hobert Electric, “but I’m pretty proud of these guys.”

The Milton boys are career Marines, having served 21-1/2 years and a little more than 18 years, respectively.

Brian, 41, who is being promoted to Squadron Sgt. Major next month, just finished his second tour of duty in Iraq as Battalion Sgt. Major of the 8th Engineer Support Battalion on March 17. He was last stationed at Camp Al Taqaddum, an old Iraqi air base, but in 2003, he was part of the initial U.S. invasion force into Iraq.

Brad, 37, is Gunnery Sgt. of a Marine Aviation Logistics squadron at Miramar, Calif., a Marine base made famous in the blockbuster movie “Top Gun.” It so happens that Brian’s next assignment will also be at Miramar.

Before returning to duty, though, Brian is enjoying a three-week leave.

“I think I’ve earned it,” he remarked. “I’m spending a week with my brother visiting relatives, then a week with my kids and a week-long cruise with my wife. I know she’s earned it, taking care of things while I’ve been gone.”

In addition to the Hoberts in Charles City, Brian and Brad also have a grandfather who lives in Osage, Lloyd Milton. Their mother and father are Linda and Robert Milton, now of Glendale, Ariz.

“We try to make it back (to Iowa) when we can, but it’s really tough to get away and get back here,” said Brad, who along with his brother were raised in Des Moines. “The last time Brian was here was in 2000, and I haven’t been here in a couple of years. It’s a struggle to balance our time with relatives in addition to the Marine Corps and our own families.”

Both Brian and his wife, Dawn, and Brad and his wife, Alexandra, are the parents of three children. The two families currently live half a mile apart in Murrita, Calif., as Brian’s last stateside station was at nearby Camp Pendelton in Oceanside, Calif.

While they are in different units, the Milton boys have been stationed together several times at the same bases.

“We’ve been drill instructors together and were together while stationed in North Carolina,” reported Brian. “We just missed each other being stationed in Japan, though. The day I came back, I got off the plane and shook his hand as he was departing for Japan.”

Why a career in the Marines?

“The ultimate thing, for me, is the commitment, the camaraderie, the spirit and the reputation of the Marine Corps,” explained Brian.

“We’re a family, the Marine Corps,” added Brad. “We take care of each other, and that includes supporting the spouses and families of Marines who are left behind during a deployment. We all take care of one another.”

Being a Marine is a constant challenge, according to Brian, and one he enjoys meeting head on.

“It keeps us young, because it always keeps us going,” he said.

Brian noted that older Marines, such as himself and Brad, need to stay in touch with what is going on with the younger generation.

“Most of the Marines we deal with are between the ages of 18-21,” he said. “Our job is to take care of the welfare of our Marines, while maintaining discipline and morale. That’s our ultimate responsibility.”

Over in Iraq, Brian reported that morale among the troops is holding up well.

“The lines of communication back home have been getting better as the infrastructure over there improves,” he commented. “Other things are improving too. I know of one base over there that even has a Burger King and a Pizza Hut.”

“I hear that all the time, that the guys eat well,” noted Brad of the troops overseas. “They are using contractors for cooks, now. It’s a little rougher outside of the bases, but on-base our guys are being taken care of.”

Brian also said that the National Guard troops deployed in Iraq are performing well.

“The Guard units, for the most part, are performing top notch, right up there with the regulars,” he said. “I know my Marines were very appreciative of what the Guard was doing for us, providing cover while we repaired the roads and checked for buried ordinance.

“My hat’s off to the Guard troops for doing a full year rotation over there. We, as regulars, rotate out a little faster. A full year is tough, on them and their families back home.”

Brian also emphasized the importance of the support the troops serving In Iraq and Afghanistan have received from home.

“I want to thank the people back here for their continued support - the care packages and letters we’re all so appreciate of receiving. It really means a lot to us,” he said. “The support is not always publicized, but it has always been there. We’re getting things all the time, literally truckloads of mail. Every Marine and sailor in my unit over there had a present to open at Christmas. That made a huge difference, to see all of those young men smiling.”

Serving in the military runs in the Miltons’ blood.

“I’m an old military man and this is a military family,” said Wendell, who did convoy duty with the Navy throughout WWII. “My oldest son is in the Air Force, while I have another son in the Navy.

“We also have an uncle in the National Guard,” added Brian.

“It runs in the family, and these two men here are our pride and joy,” said Wendell.

Brian admitted that Grandpa Lloyd in Osage is pretty proud, as well.

“He’s very happy to see me home,” he said.

Brian presented both of his grandfathers with American flags that were flown at Camp Al Taqaddum during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“How about that,” said Wendell, obviously moved by the gift.

In addition to the Marines, the brothers have something else in common - they’re both NASCAR junkies.

“If we could do something together and we had the money, we’d be racing,” said Brian with a smile. “We like to watch the races together and have been to a number of them.

“I have even been in the pits with our Marine team before,” noted Brad.

“I’d still rather have them be electricians,” jabbed Wendell.

“We are, sort of,” laughed Brad. “Both of us have been in aviation electronics, and we have both done electrical work in our own homes.”

It really does run in the family.


Contact Mark Wicks at


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