When Eli Cox, 23, and his brother, Chance, 20, finished high school, joining the National Guard was the last thing they thought they’d do.

“When the 63rd deployed, one of my buddies was with them and when he came back, he was telling me about it and I was like ‘No way, man. I’m not doing that,’” Chance said. “And then two weeks later, I was in it.”

The two Glasgow brothers returned from Iraq on April 5, after an almost 10-month tour with the 63rd National Guard Aviation group.

While in Iraq, the brothers were involved in convoy security, escorting military convoys to their destinations. Eli said the job wasn’t as bad as some other duties soldiers have to do.

“It wasn’t bad,” he said. “It was one of the better jobs, I think. Being in the Guard, I think a lot of people get jobs that aren’t as glamorous as that.”

Eli and Chance said that they were well received by the people of the communities where they served.

“A lot would cheer us on when we’d drive by,” Eli said. “It felt safer, it seemed, when we were around. The little kids were real happy to see us. We’d bring them shoes sometimes, soccer balls, candy. There was tons of support from friends and family and just random people sending us stuff.”

The brothers said they really appreciated the gifts and care packages they received from family and friends.

Eli said their parents are very proud of their service and happy to have them home.

“Mom was pretty tore up the whole time we were there,” Eli said. “She said she was never watching the news, but I guess it’s all right, because we came back. She’s happy about that.”

Eli said the attitude in Iraq is improving and there seems to be less violence.

“It’s a lot better than it was when it first started, so I guess it is moving forward,” Eli said. “I haven’t seen the whole big picture. I just know what I’ve seen and there’s way less violence from the time we first got there to the time we left. Not that we were doing that, personally, we were just escorting convoys, but the infantry over there is doing a really good job.”

Chance said one of the worst things about the area is the weather.

“It’s hot over there,” Chance said. “When you’re in Kuwait, the sand sticks to you.”

Both brothers said even though they were close before, being in the National Guard together has brought them closer.

“We’re definitely closer since we joined,” Chance said.

“We’ve always lived together and stuff, when we joined the military, everything we’ve done in the military so far, we’ve done together,” Eli said.

After their short stay at home, the brothers are expecting to ship out again soon. Both say the National Guard has given them a great opportunity.

“I think I made a great choice in life,” Eli said. “I didn’t have much else going on at the time, now I’ve got opportunities. I’m a veteran. I’ve served my country.’

Chance added: “It gave us a good start. It gives us better career opportunities.”

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