Jason and Bradley Trumpower share more than the bonds of brotherhood and the title of Memorial Day parade grand marshals.
The brothers share a family legacy of military service with their father and two other brothers.
Jason, 32, is a seasoned serviceman with an enlistment in the Marine Corps under his belt. He is a staff sergeant in the Army with almost 13 years active duty service completed, two of those were in Iraq.
Over the past four years, Jason has spent May 2003 to July 2004 and January 2006 to February in Iraq. Now, the career military man says, “never again.”
Two times battle weary in Iraq
The first time was different, Jason Trumpower said. People would walk up to you in the street to greet you, embrace you. Now, if someone is walking toward you, you’re locked and loaded — ready to be fired on, not hugged.
In 2003, he was angry and didn’t know why troops were in a foreign country.
The second time can only be described as dangerous.
Jason led a crew in an assault vehicle named the “Happy Hippo. It was in honor of one of his four children’s love of hippos.
The hippo was struck with an Improvised Explosive Device.
Pinned inside the vehicle’s turret, Jason, with burns on his face and hand, maintained radio contact with unit members and scene security.
A medic in the vehicle began tending to badly injured soldiers.
Staff Sgt. David Anderson rushed to the scene loading the injured into his vehicle.
On the way back to Camp Ramadi, Anderson’s vehicle was struck with an IED.
The second blast set the vehicle on fire, injuring five more soldiers, in addition to Jason’s crew from the first vehicle.
With the help of Jason, Anderson was able to pull the burning soldiers from the vehicle.
Jason secured the injured in an nearby home while Anderson went back for more.
He stood guard to ensure their safety as a medic delivered combat care.
No one died that day, thanks in part to Jason.
But the Bronze Star he received doesn’t matter to him.
“The whole area we operated in was a dangerous place. I was just doing my job — the job I was trained to do,” he said.
The youngest goes to war
For mom, Karen, if one son wasn’t in Iraq, the other one was.
“It’s a lot of sleepless nights. Sometimes I would get up in the middle of the night to see if there was an e-mail from the boys since there’s such a time difference,” she said.
Bradley Trumpower, a specialist in the National Guard spent one year in Iraq, starting January 2005.
Bradley, 25, is the youngest and Karen wanted him to go to college, but the military tradition was an itch he had to scratch.
No one in the family expected his National Guard experience to include time in the Middle East, including Jason. But both brothers knew it was possible.
“I made up my mind a long time ago if I saw a car pull up and uniforms walking up my front walk, I wasn’t answering the door. It wouldn’t change anything you know, but it’s just something I never want to see.”
A newlywed and college student in Youngstown, studying social work, Bradley is proud to have served, but is ready for his commitment to end later this year.
“I don’t want to get shot at anymore,” he said.
Bradley’s deployment was worrisome for big brother Jason, who was an active duty serviceman when he received his orders to Iraq both times. Bradley was not.
Jason is home on leave in Norwalk. Bradley has been home for a while, but for mom, it’s truly a homecoming for both sons.
She knows neither of her sons will be deployed, at least for a while.
Being the parade grand marshals is more for mom and dad than anything else, the brothers say.
They are proud to represent veterans on a Memorial Day with battle buddies still in Iraq and some who fought to their death.