Achieving the illustrious twin status of notable pairs like Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen or Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito might seem a monumental task to some, but to master sergeants Bryant and Joseph Howard, it’s business as usual.
The identical soldiers the U.S. Army Reserve liked so much it recruited them twice are heading off on their third deployment together, this time to Kuwait, as motor transport operators with the 450th Movement Control Battalion.
The two previously deployed together to Iraq in 2003 and 2009, and spent an overlapping deployment with separate units in Afghanistan in 2013.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the twins have traversed a nearly identical career.
Early days of intentionally confusing high school teachers or working the counter at McDonalds eventually turned into jobs in law enforcement that contributed some uninententional pranks in their own right.
“I became a police officer, he worked in a jail — he was a corrections officer," Joseph said in an Army release.
“The weird part about that was if I dropped somebody off at jail, they might run into him and think he was me.”
That outsider confusion was no different when then two enlisted in the Army and crossed paths after completing basic training.
A mishap with their local Military Entrance Processing Station’s buddy system meant the twins had to separate for basic. Joseph reported to Fort Jackson and Bryant shipped off to the pristine beaches and bustling metropolis of Lawton at Oklahoma’s Fort Sill.
(Has any boot camp buddy program ever worked?)
The twins were eventually conjoined upon arrival at Fort Leonard Wood for Advanced Individual Training.
“It took the drill sergeants a month to realize there was twins in the unit," Joseph joked. "They threw a fit because they thought we were just one super high-speed person.”
Eighteen years later, in Kuwait, Bryant is overseeing the Trans Arabian Network, tracking movement in an area of operations that includes Jordan, Oman and Kuwait.
Joseph, meanwhile, handles motor-T’s administrative, personnel, and operational S-3 details — rounding out the perfect one-two punch.
With seven combined deployments under their belts and the magical 20-year mark on the horizon, the sun may soon be setting on Bryant and Joseph’s time in uniform.
“I do want to hit my 20-year mark,” Joseph said in the release, before adding that he’ll be ready, when the time comes, to hang up the camouflage.
“It’s really hard to keep up with the changing Army — the trends and everything," he said. “Depending on what happens when I get to the States, I may stick it out longer, or I may get out.”
At least for now, it looks like that means an imminent farewell awaits the twins, because Bryant wants nothing to do with the retirement talk.
”I’m just going to stay in until I can’t stand it anymore."
Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.