Twin Marines to join older brother in Iraq Patrick Parkinson Of the Record staff
Within six weeks, three of Colleen and Dean Schulte’s eight children will be fighting for the United States Marine Corps in one of the world’s most dangerous war zones. "I hope that they get over there and do their duty and come home safe. I’ll have three all at once in the same area which I didn’t realize that they did any more," Dean Schulte said Thursday. The war in Iraq has hit home in North Summit and next month the Schulte family’s living arrangements will begin to resemble something from a Steven Spielberg movie. "Ever since World War II, they never would put a group of relatives within a close, tight perimeter of each other," the father said. "Apparently, war is war. They’re going to do what they’re going to do to pull personnel." But the family will be together on Christmas all except the oldest son, 23-year-old Adam Schulte, who lives on the Marine’s Al Asad air base near Fallujah, Iraq. "When people are killed, every time I hear something, I pray for the family," Colleen Schulte said. "It just breaks my heart." As Adam Schulte is packing his footlocker in February to return home, his twin younger brothers, Jason and Jerad, 21, will be arriving for their tours of duty in Iraq.
Their father doesn’t mince words when he expresses his opinions about the war. "I think that they’re doing their job and I’m proud of them but I don’t know if that situation over there is a winnable situation," he added. "How many times have they come out and said, ‘We’ve got things contained, under control.’ And then the next month turns out to be the bloodiest month." But after an explosion on an oil rig near Chalk Creek burned nearly half of Dean Schulte’s body about 20 years ago, he began raising his children to respect the integrity the Marine Corps instills in its soldiers.
"They’re not saying that they quit, they’re not saying it’s too hard, it’s too hot. These guys are gung ho and I’m proud of them for that," the father said. Both sides of the twins’ family are steeped in military tradition with Dean’s and Colleen’s brothers having served in the Corps. "I know that it’s the most squared away branch as far as making sure the personnel have a certain amount of honor and integrity," Dean said about the Marine Corps.
But he worries about his sons. "I’m one of those guys, it’s when you’re alone on a road that you think about it and maybe shed a few tears you mull things over and you get on," Dean said. "I’ll be happy here, maybe another year or so, when everybody’s at least on this side of the water." Colleen suffers more in the absence of her sons, he said, adding, "it’s the time of her life to have her boys home. She’s been a trooper."
Though she believes the United States must stay in Iraq, Colleen Schulte is frustrated as her son Jason, who is preparing to embark on his second tour in Iraq, is also planning a third trip to the Middle East before his time in the Marines expires in less than three years. "I’m proud that they’re serving but that’s his third time. How can they make him do it three times?" she said. ‘You don’t think about death every day’
The Schulte twins, who joined the Marine Corps when they graduated from North Summit High School in 2003, returned to Coalville last week from their homes on bases in Hawaii and North Carolina to spend Christmas with their family.
Since they left North Summit more than two years ago, both men have become skilled aircraft mechanics and experts with machine guns.
Though the twins are excited to ship out, Jason Schulte, who returned from his first tour in Iraq last spring, isn’t optimistic the war will end any time soon. "Everybody thought if we catch Saddam Hussein it would be all over. We caught him and it’s still going," Jason said. "It might be a Bush thing because his dad got in a fight with Saddam Hussein."
He recalled a conversation he had with his father Wednesday night about Israel. "I usually go with what my dad has to say because he taught me a lot about politics," Jason said. "We were talking about Israel and Palestine. We were doing the same thing to Israel and Palestine that we are doing to the Iraqis." Some days he supports President George W. Bush’s decision to go to war,
but, "some days, I’m like, dude, why would you want to do something like this," Jason said. "I signed the contract so I have to do what they tell me," he said, insisting, he’s not afraid to die. "You don’t think about death every day if you join the Marine Corps, you’re ready to die."
But Jason wants his younger brothers and sister to stay out of the military. "I think they want to join but I don’t want them to," he said. Since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, Jerad Schulte says he has waited anxiously to fight in the war. "We freed those people and did a lot of good stuff for them," said Jerad, who will deploy next month from his home in Hawaii. The twins were told about four months ago that they would be shipping out at the first of the year. ‘ we know we’ll have to separate’
In November, Jason and 21-year-old Kanica Schulte were married. Though many members of her family have served in the military, the twins’ gung ho attitude doesn’t resonate with the woman. "I’ve never been through a parting with my significant other. It’s going to be hard, but it’s not going to kick in until two or three months after he’s gone," Kanica said. "We live life to appreciate each other’s company while we are here, because we know we’ll have to separate."
Meanwhile, Colleen Schulte is praying that her boys will make it safely back to American soil. "If God wants them, we don’t get to choose," she concluded stoically. oHow
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