It isn't unusual to find a tradition of military service in families; in fact, it is often seen as a rite of passage. However, it is somewhat atypical for two brothers to be in the same unit and stranger still for them to be identical twins.
Twenty-three years ago, Jamaal Wilson was born 43 seconds before his twin brother Jamile. A happenstance the younger brother swears has to do with luck and the older brother claims has to do with grace.
Regardless of the argument as to why Jamaal was born first; the brothers did decide on the same career path within the Army. They are both all-wheel vehicle mechanics assigned to Company B, Special Troops Battalion, 1st Armored Division and will deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom later this year.
Joining the Army was always a possibility that the brothers closely considered. They were both active in their high school Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps programs. After graduation, they pursued college and each brother started a family.
Citing a desire to provide a more financially stable environment for his children and a sense of duty to serve, Jamile said he knew he wanted to join and that he wanted his brother to join with him.
"My father and my mother were both in the Army," said Jamile, a private first class, the same rank as his brother. "So it felt right and natural for us to follow in their footsteps and try to make our own path at the same time."
Jerome Wilson recently retired from the Army as a sergeant first class and teaches ROTC in Atlanta, their hometown.
"I think my father was a big influence on us," said Jamaal. "He always taught us to take the hard right instead of the easy wrong."
During basic combat training at Fort Jackson S.C., the brothers were in different companies but were in the same battalion. They kept the fact they were twins a secret from their drill sergeants and battle buddies.
"We were really trying to be individuals during basic training," Jamile explained.
But any anonymity was quickly lost during advanced individual training, where the brothers found themselves in the same company and all the same training classes. In fact, each of the brothers took turns as the student first sergeant.
The twins were initially assigned to different duty stations in Germany but once they arrived at reception, someone intervened and arranged for them both to go to the 1st AD at Wiesbaden Army Airfield. Jamile was originally set to work at the 1st AD headquarters but soon after, was transferred to the same motor pool as his brother.
"This is the first time I have seen brothers in the same unit," said Sgt. 1st Class Javier Weingart, B Co., STB, 1st AD, motor sergeant. "And twins, it's very unique."
Working with the Wilson brothers has presented a unique set of challenges.
"It took me about two months to be able to tell them apart, but Jamile is a little taller and has a mole [under his eye]," Weingart joked. "But they are both motivated, maybe the most motivated guys we have in the shop."
Although surprised by the good fortune that kept them together, the Wilson brothers are thankful to work together and thankful to be able to deploy together.
"A lot people aren't fortunate enough to have their brother there with them," said Jamile. "If I have a down day, my brother will be right there to push me."
The short-term priority for both brothers is to get the job done downrange and make it home safely to their families. As for their military careers, neither one could stand for the other to outrank him.
"I heard a story about twin sergeants major," said Jamaal. "Maybe we could be next."
This work, 1st Armored Division motor pool becomes a family affair, by SSG Jennifer Spradlin, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.