Cousins find opportunity with Guard

By JOCELYN SHEETS
Register Sports Editor

Courtesy photo
Joining the Kansas National Guard became a family affair this spring. Seven of this reserve soldiers are cousins and five of those cousins are Maleys from Moran. Back row, Pfc. Bobby Maley, Spc Shane Cobb, who is a friend of the family, Spc. Nick Watkins, a cousin from Garnett, Spc. Jake Maley; front row, Spc. Hannah Watkins, cousin from Garnett, Pfc. Josh Maley, Pfc. Ethan Maley and Pfc. Nathan Maley.

GAS — The color photograph could be mistaken for a U.S. Army squad — eight soldiers in uniforms.
But it’s just four brothers, three cousins and a friend who are members of three different Kansas National Guard units.
Jake, Bobby, Ethan and Nathan Maley are sons of Dale and Nancy Maley of Moran. Pfc. Josh Maley, son of Cricket Maley and Harry Maley of Moran, is a cousin in basic training with the 891st. The photo was taken this spring at their grandmother Audrey Maley’s home near Moran.
The four Maley brothers are also grandsons of Bonnie and Jack Steward of Gas. Nancy is the Steward’s daughter.
“It’s just so unusual, I think, that seven cousins all are serving in the Guard at the same time,” Bonnie Steward said. “We’re proud of all of these people.”
Spc. Jake Maley was the first to join, Steward said. He and family friend, Spc. Shane Cobb, 27, of Topeka, have served two tours in Iraq as members of the Combat Action Brigade.
Bobby, Ethan and Nathan are all new recruits for the Kansas National Guard 891st Engineering Battalion. They are in the Guard’s Reserve Sustainment Program.
Education benefits drew Josh, said his mother.
Likewise, vocational skills prompted twins Ethan and Nathan and brother Bobby to enlist, said Nancy.
“Jake was in the National Guard already. Ethan was interested because of the electrician opportunities. That got Bobby interested, then Nathan decided to join also,” she said.
Jake Maley is 21 and Bobby is 20. Ethan and Nathan will turn 18 in June.
Spc. Hannah Watkins, 21, is a cousin of the Maleys from Garnett, and has served one tour of duty with the 35th Military Police Company in Iraq. Her brother, Spc. Nick Watkins, 25, also from Garnett, is a medic in the 891st. Their parents are Barbie Watkins and Steve Watkins of Garnett.