A Marine and his brother have both been awarded medals — one for combat and one for athletics.
Gunnery Sgt. Verice Bennett’s brother, Ashton Eaton, was awarded the gold medal at Olympic Stadium in London on Thursday for his performance in the decathlon. He accumulated 8,869 points in the two-day event that includes 10 grueling tasks like the high jump, the long jump and various races.A Marine’s brother earned the gold medal in the decathlon during the 2012 London Olympics. (AP photo)
Bennett, 34, watched his brother compete from Virginia where he works at Manpower and Reserve Affairs at Marine Corps Base Quantico. He said he couldn’t be more proud of his little brother.
“It’s unbelievable,” Bennett said. “His mini fan base here, my kids, they’re ecstatic. My son brought him to school for show-and-tell last time he was here.”
Life is interesting having a brother who breaks Olympic records, Bennett said.
When visiting Bennett’s son’s school, Eaton showed the kids his high-jumping skills and was suddenly about four feet in the air.
“I was ahead of him in a race once — but only for the first step,” Bennett joked about his brother’s speed. “He might be able to beat me on the track, but I can beat him on the ground when we wrestle — which he’ll probably deny.”
Both brothers have busy schedules. Bennett said he follows Eaton’s career as much as he can through his deployments and they visit in between his tours and his brother’s training.
One of those visits took place around a different kind of medal. Bennett was awarded the Silver Star in Dec. 2011 for actions while serving as platoon commander for India Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, in Afghanistan in 2010.
On Sept. 13, 2010, his company came under fire from more than 100 Taliban fighters. Bennett managed his Marines, braving firefight in order to repel enemy advances for more than 10 hours.
Eaton, 24, wrote about watching his brother being presented with his medal on his blog.
“Until now I didn’t know what gravity it held to hold the American flag at something like the World Championships or Olympics,” Eaton wrote of his brother’s Silver Star ceremony.
Bennett said the feeling behind the medals is so different, because one can dream of earning the Olympic gold, but one doesn’t really dream about earning a Silver Star. There are different sacrifices behind them, he said.
Bruce Jenner, who won the gold medal and broke a record in Eaton’s event in 1976, spoke highly of the Marine’s brother following his win. Jenner told “The Today Show” that Eaton is “the greatest decathlete the U.S. has ever produced.”