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Brothers in arms headed for Kuwait and Iraq

When Phillip and Chris Anderson were young boys growing up in Duluth, they talked about fighting in a war together. This weekend, the two brothers left the Northland to do just that. On Sunday, Phillip Anderson, 25, departed on a bus with the Hib...

Anderson family
Brothers Chris and Phillip Anderson are heading for Kuwait and Iraq with the Minnesota National Guard. The Anderson brothers and their father, Tim, pose for a portrait in March at Chris Anderson's wedding, (from left) Shane Anderson, Tim Anderson, Chris Anderson and Phillip Anderson. (Photo courtesy of Shane Anderson)

When Phillip and Chris Anderson were young boys growing up in Duluth, they talked about fighting in a war together.

This weekend, the two brothers left the Northland to do just that.

On Sunday, Phillip Anderson, 25, departed on a bus with the Hibbing unit of the Minnesota National Guard's 1st Squadron, 94th Cavalry.

His younger brother, Chris, 23, traveled on another bus, with the Cloquet unit of the same squadron. Their destination was Fort McCoy, Wis., where they will spend the next four to six weeks training intensively for their deployment.

In less than two months, the brothers will be serving alongside one another in Kuwait and Iraq under Operation New Dawn, performing convoy security operations in support of U.S. forces in the area.

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"Everybody is my brother when you are in the military," said Chris, who is a full-time law enforcement student at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. "But when you have somebody who grew up with you in the same family and can talk with you about your little nieces and nephews, it makes life that much better, given the situation that you are in."

The brothers joined the Minnesota National Guard six years ago while they were students at Duluth East High School.

Although this is Chris' first deployment, Phillip, a combat truck driver, served in Iraq in 2006-07, and has been drawing on that experience to help his brother prepare for the reality of war.

"He has been asking some questions, and I tell him the best I can," said Phillip, who is a mechanic at the Firestone store on Miller Trunk Highway in Duluth. "But I'm not a very good advice giver -- every experience is different."

He recalled missing the outdoors, hunting, fishing, four-wheeling and snowmobiling on his first deployment.

The 1st Squadron, 94th Cavalry is scheduled to return to Duluth next spring. That means a year apart for Chris and his wife, Jessica, high school sweethearts who married just two months ago and have been settling into life in their Duluth Heights home since the wedding.

"We have been anticipating this [deployment] for a really long time and together, we have been through a lot of training missions," said Chris, who has also had to put on hold his studies and his small-business venture, Healthy Foam Carpet Cleaning.

Watching the brothers at their going-away ceremonies in Hibbing on Thursday and Cloquet on Friday were their older brother, Shane, 31; their father, Tim; Phillip's girlfriend, Jeanne Cristo; and other relatives.

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"Their mother would have been very proud of them," Tim Anderson said of his wife, Renee, who passed away 19 years ago. "I'm so proud of them -- of the three of them."

He said both Phillip and Chris had gained much since joining the Minnesota National Guard.

"I know they always talked about joining the Army," he added. "When the two were growing up, they were like twins -- joined at the hip.

"You never had to worry -- where there was one of them, the other always was. They are close."

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