NAVAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING COMMAND, ZAMBALES, LUZON, Philippines --
It is common for service members to travel all over the world by any means necessary to see family whenever they can.
One family did just that during a mechanized amphibious assault in the Philippines, Oct. 5.
“Being on the far side of the world, we don’t get to see each other much,” said Barrett O. Comiskey, a businessman who works overseas and traveled from Taipei, Taiwan to see his U.S. Marine brother. “[There’s] no better welcome to shore than with family there.”
Barrett’s brother, 1st Lt. William D. Comiskey, a Washington, D.C. native is an Amphibious Assault Vehicle platoon commander with Company I, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. His job that day was to complete an amphibious assault with Philippine and U.S. Marines during Amphibious Landing Exercise 15, an annual bilateral training event in the Philippines.
William didn’t expect to meet his brother this way, but his unit made it happen.
“It’s a very special moment for these guys to meet up in the Pacific,” said Capt. Braxton H. Mashburn, company commander for I Co., BLT 3/5, 31st MEU. “It was a special opportunity to do it here in the Philippines.”
Around 500 people, including Barrett and his family, witnessed more than 100 Philippine Marines and a platoon of U.S. Marines assault a simulated objective on the beach.
After the assault was over, Barrett with his wife and two daughters were all anxious to see William jump out of one of the AAVs.
It took some coordination by Marines with Special Operations Training Group and Lt. Col. Robert C. Rice, BLT 3/5’s commanding officer. After the mission, SOTG Marines directed William’s AAV to the front of the viewing stand for the big surprise.
Barrett began to wave his hands to signal to his brother once he saw the AAV storm down the beach toward him.
As soon it came to a halt, Barrett climbed aboard the 30-ton vehicle and the two brothers hugged for the first time in over a year.
The crowd of spectators and media all cheered the moment the two reunited.
Barrett then sent in his little assault force, twin daughters Sora and Tara, to attack their uncle on the beach.
“This was better than I imagined,” said Barrett, seeing his brother hoist his nieces in the air.
William’s commanding officer was impressed with the exercise and to see the two brothers meet in such a unique way.
“This makes the whole deployment really special,” said Rice, a Richland, Washington native. “It makes this landing special, and memorable. We’re going to remember this one for a while.”
PHIBLEX is an annual, bilateral training exercise conducted by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines alongside U.S. Marine and Navy forces focused on strengthening the partnership and relationships between the two nations across a range of military operations including disaster relief and complex expeditionary operations.
“There’s a lot of bonding going on here,” said Mashburn. “There is special relationship here with two brothers but also a special relationship between [Philippine and U.S.] forces as brothers in arms.”
William was glad to showcase what the Philippine and U.S. Marines can do together firsthand.
“I know my brother spends half the year in the Philippines (for work), and having the opportunity for him to come out and see what we do, to see the Marine Corps operate with foreign nations, it was priceless,” he said.