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thedrifter
07-30-08, 08:42 AM
07/29/2008
Marine brothers play tag team
By CATHERINE SAGER

CASTLETON--The "Garbanzo" boys are together again.

Like tag-team Marines, United States Marine Eric Garvensites returned home from active duty March 4. His younger brother Danny, 18, leaves for boot camp in August.

Eric, 26, is taking some time off to spend with his family. Eric and his father have tattoos that say "Garbanzo." The other boys, Adam and Danny, are planning to follow suit. There has even been talk of mom, Stacy, getting the tattoo. But 11-year old Mikey may wait a few years.

Daniel says the "Garbanzo mentality" bonds the family. "We look out for one another," he says. "No matter what."

Eric joined the Marine Corps just two days after graduation from Maple Hill High School. He said college was never in the plan. "I was never a really good student," he said. "I had a friend who had joined the Marines and he brought a recruiter by my house.

"It was pretty funny, the guy spent hours telling me about the service, he showed me a training video, I took a test and at the end I told him no thanks."

After the recruiter left, Eric changed his mind.

Boot camp came as a shock. "It was hard with the drill instructors yelling all the time," he said. "It was a culture shock, big time."

He completed boot camp June 24, 2001. "It's a very rewarding feeling.

There's nothing like it." Eric felt a strong sense of camaraderie knowing the men he served with could one day save his life. "I could spend all day trying to explain, but the brotherhood of the Marines is something bigger than anything I've ever felt."

Eric's first day of the Crucible, the final test for recruits, a rigorous field training exercise, was September 11, 2001. "It was very motivating."

He graduated September 21, 2001 and was stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. From there he went to Okinawa, Japan for jungle warfare training, then to Russia, Albania, Israel and the Philippines, where Eric and his troops spent a month in a tent city where they briefly came in contact with enemy combatants. "We were ready," he said. "I had my saw locked and loaded, but they saw us and wisely decided to move on."

As a member of Charlie Company, Eric served in Afghanistan where he engaged in battle with insurgents:

"Charlie Company was taking fire from caves at the top of a mountain," he said. "Two Marines were sent up the mountain to check it out. Once up the mountain one of the Marines was shot and the pair was pinned down.

Our squad leader heads up to clear the area with grenades and after being shot in the leg, he clears the cave out of which insurgents were firing and carried the injured Marine down the mountain. He saved those two marines' lives that day."

Toward the end of his duty, he was stationed at Parris Island in South Carolina, training new recruits. He didn't go easy on them. "You can't. The Marines have a tradition to uphold.

"They're the best out there, the most disciplined, the best trained, the best dressed, and the best looking," he says with a disarming smile.

Eric has returned home with a broader worldview. He recommends the service to his younger brother. "Danny is going to be an exceptional Marine," Eric says. "I can see it in his eyes. I've trained recruits. I know by the way he speaks and just the way he holds himself. He's going to excel. I have no doubt."

Danny said he has always wanted to be a Marine.

"Ever since I was little I loved watching war movies, having play battles with my brothers," he said. "I was always interested in the, military."

He was just 10 years old, when his older brother Eric entered the delayed entry program, an enlistment in the inactive reserves with an agreement to report for active duty later.

"I missed him while he was gone and when he came home on leave I spent all of my time with him. I listened and learned, asked questions and read the books he gave me and over the years decided that I wanted to be a Marine. Especially after seeing him graduate.

"As a senior there was a lot of talk about college, and I thought about going to college, but I've always felt like I belonged in the military."

Danny graduated in June from Maple Hill and will head to boot camp August 28.

Meanwhile, a recruiter spends time with Danny in preparation for boot camp. "We go every Saturday, to do physical training. We learn how to march, follow orders; there is a lot of running, calisthenics, and fireman's carrying drills to learn how to carry an injured person."

Danny may have an advantage to other young DEP members. "My brother would come home and teach me that stuff, so I at least knew what to expect. I did see some of the other kids get upset or afraid, but I wasn't surprised like many of the others."

Danny says he sees the military as a positive step. "I wanted that change in my life to help me to become a better person." He says he enjoys working with his hands and plans to work in combat vehicle repair. While in the Marine Corps he will attend college and study for a Special Forces reconnaissance job. If he decides to stay and serves 20 years as a Marine, he could retire at 39 with a pension.

The boys credit their father, Daniel, for their self-reliance and strong work ethic. They say he has been a role model. "I'm a father first," Daniel says. "If they want something, they work for it, it's that simple."

The boys have been savoring their time together, and with the youngest boy, Mikey. "We spend a lot of time with him," says Danny. "He's like a sponge. He never misses anything, so you always have to be sure you're doing the right thing."

In true "Garbanzo" fashion the boys bruise one another, as quick with a heartfelt hug as a playful punch, spending time just being brothers.

To contact reporter Catherine Sager email csager@IndeNews.com.

Ellie