A 44-year-old Strawberry Point man and his 22-year-old son are serving in the same National Guard unit in Iraq. Lieutenant Colonel Ben Corell is the commander of six-hundred-40 Iowa National Guard soldiers, including his 22-year-old son Tyler. Corell says a “unique aspect” of the Guard is that many soldiers are related. Within the First Batallion, one-33rd Infantry soldiers Corell is leading in Iraq, there are 15 sets of brothers and another father and son. Corell has three sons.
Twenty-six-year-old Wade and 23-year-old Travis are also part of his Guard unit, but Corell and his family talked about this latest deployment and decided only one son would make the journey into Iraq under dad’s command. “I believe that it comforts my wife (Beth) somewhat knowing that if her son is over in the war zone, at least I’m here and I’m able to be present in the same vicinity at the same time,” he says.
During a previous call to active duty, father Corell and all three of his sons did serve together in Egypt. “I think that I am probably harder on them than I would be on someone else if I feel that they’ve made a mistake,” Corell says. “I err on the side of being tougher on them just so there is no perceived favoritism involved.”
Corell and his youngest son have precious little one-on-one time in Iraq these days. “There’s a time when he can come in and close the door and sit down….but those are few and far between because we’re so busy here,” the elder Corell says.
All three of Corell’s sons asked to be deployed on this latest mission in Iraq.
“My wife and I had a discussion that we did not want…all three…to deploy and so we settled on bringing one of the sons over here to do this mission,” Corell says. “They have all deployed in the past, so we were able to do that.”
Tyler had just graduated from Hawkeye Tech in Waterloo and planned to go enroll at Iowa State University last fall, but his unit was mobilized in September of last year for training at Camp Shelby in Mississippi before being shipped overseas to Iraq.
The two Corells and the rest of their Iowa Guard units have been in Iraq since April and are expected to rotate off active duty sometime in the middle of next year.