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Arraf Reports: Three Brothers in Iraq
The Parsons: When Your Wounded US Army Brother Really is Your Brother
By JANE ARRAF 05/15/2007 1:26 PM ET
Captain Bill Parsons points out location to Stryker Brigade Commander Col. Steve Townsend.
Photo by Jane Arraf
Captain Bill Parsons points out location to Stryker Brigade Commander Col. Steve Townsend.

Baghdad – They were born 13 minutes apart, graduated at the top of their class at West Point, and deployed to Iraq as company commanders in the same brigade.

An IED blast in Baquba on Thursday sent Captain Huber Parsons home for treatment with multiple injuries while his brother, Bill, commands a company clearing some of the most dangerous streets of Baghdad. Huber Parsons’ driver, Specialist Jason Vaughn, was killed in the attack.

I caught up with Bill Parsons on Monday as he and his soldiers from Bravo 2-3 Infantry conducted house-to-house searches in a neighborhood of the Baya area in southwest Baghdad that has become a magnet for sectarian attacks.

Bill got to see his brother before he was evacuated to Germany en Route to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Will said their parents and his brother’s wife are there now.

“He was on a lot of morphine but he was pretty coherent,” he said.

“I know the pain from his injuries is one thing but I also know the mental, psychological stress he’s going through with all the soldiers – he’s had a lot of casualties in his unit and his guys are still up there so I think that’s the hardest part for him.”

At least six other Stryker Brigade soldiers and a Russian journalist were killed last week in Baquba, where al-Qaeda linked groups and Shiite extremists are waging one of the fiercest fights in Iraq.

“He had some fractures his ankle was crushed – they think his femur is going to be okay after surgery – they put that back together – they expect he’ll be able to walk again but they don’t know about running. It’s his ankle they’re worried about,” Bill Parsons says.

Amazingly, there is a third Parsons brother currently deployed in Iraq. First Lieutenant Charlie Parsons, 24, arrived last fall and is a platoon leader in a unit based in Baghdad now involved in looking for the missing American servicemen. Charlie has a twin sister, Christine (Kiki), who teaches school in Jackson, Mississippi.

Bill, who has a son who just turned one, said his father, a lawyer was in the reserves but always regretted not serving active duty. His mother is a flight attendant for Delta Airlines.

On Monday, Bill was worrying more about his own soldiers than his brother. The company, part of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division and based in Fort Lewis, Washington, was combing through an area of Baghdad finding weapons and insurgents in an area that has become the front line between Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents.

With three brothers in same family in Iraq, I ask him if it bothers him that a lot of Americans barely think about the war.

“It can be frustrating, disappointing sometimes,” he says. A diplomatic answer. And then he’s off again to join his soldiers.


Wounded Warrior Project