Jonathan Chaney and Tito Baksh are not your typical brothers. First, they don’t look anything alike. But,
spend a few minutes with them and the camaraderie is unmistakable. They can joke and banter with the
best of them. Ask them if they are related and a sly smile comes across their faces followed by a round
of laughter. In addition to being brother’s-in-law, they are related in a way that few can understand,
unless of course, you are a U.S. Marine.
Both men have put in three tours of duty in the Middle East. Based out of Camp Pendleton, Jonathan
Chaney served from 2003 to 2007. He completed 2 tours stationed at Al Asad, Iraq and one tour of duty
in Fallujah, Iraq. Tito Baksh served from 2004 to 2011, One tour in Kuwait, one tour in Al Asad, Iraq and
still another in Fallujah, Iraq. Chaney left the service as a Corporal (E4) in the U.S. Marine Corps and now
attends school full time studying aerospace engineering. Baksh, a Sergeant, (E5) was medically retired
from the U.S. Marine Corp after sustaining a shattered femur, tibia and meniscus in training at Camp
Pendleton in California. Today he is a buyer for Amazon.
One thing they do have in common is an unbreakable bond of loyalty and service to the Marine Corp
and to one another. Upon seeing the Flag For Hope project, the canvas brought back memories and
sentiments seldom expressed, but always lingering.
“I think about freedom and the ability to live my life the way I want to versus being delegated to,”
Chaney said during our brief interview. “The conditions over there made me appreciate the USA and the
country that I served to protect.”
Anti-war propaganda greeted Chaney on his first tour home. He said that was shocking to him given the
conditions in which he served. Upon seeing the Flag For Hope, he said he was grateful that someone
was stepping up to put this movement about unity together.
“I think we took a lot for granted before we entered the service,” Baksh added, “Over there, there is No
Freedom, No opportunity and NO rights of the individual. It was un-just. People in this country don’t see
the families over there that suffer. These families are not political, they are just trying to live their lives
and not be part of a war.” He went on to say, “I saw kids begging for food in 130-degree heat. They
might not have eaten for a couple of days and there was nothing we could do but watch. It was hard. I
think people in America take that for granted, no matter their income.”
Both men agreed that moving forward, the Flag For Hope gave them an opportunity to make history in a
positive way, without violence. Both hope that the flag can come to mean something by bringing out the
goodness in everyday people and showing the real heart of Americans versus the negativity portrayed in
the media now-a-days.
Feeling appreciated and appreciating their family now more than ever is how both men say they will
move forward in the years to come. Placing their hand upon the canvas brought back a flood of
memories and a renewed spirit of thankfulness for the opportunities this great country has to offer.