Face of Defense: Identical Twins Have Soldiers Seeing Double
By Chuck Cannon
Special to American Forces Press Service
FORT POLK, La., Jul. 15, 2009 Don't blame the soldiers here if you see them do a double take when two of the unit's newest captains pass by.
Levi Lyles, foreground, pins captain bars on his son, Derrick Lyles, while Lisa Lyles, background, pins captain bars on her husband and Derrick's twin brother, Darrell Lyles, during a promotion ceremony on Fort Polk, La. July 1, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Chuck Cannon
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Despite appearances, the soldiers of 10th Mountain Division’s 94th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team are not seeing double -- they've just passed identical twins Army Capt. Darrell Lyles, commander of E Company, 94th BSB, and Army Capt. Derrick Lyles, commander of F Company, 94th BSB.
The brothers pinned on their new bars during a promotion ceremony here July 1.
Army Lt. Col. Anthony Coston, battalion commander, said the only way most soldiers can tell the brothers apart is by looking at their left hands.
"One's married and the other isn't," Coston said. "If Darrell ever stops wearing his wedding band, we're in trouble."
Darrell was a platoon leader in F Company before moving to E Company as commander, while Derrick was a platoon leader in E Company before assuming command of F Company. Coston said even he gets confused at times.
"They both have a habit of calling and saying, 'This is Lieutenant Lyles sir, I've got a question,'" Coston said. "Often, it's midway through the conversation before I figure out which one I'm talking to."
Coston said he's mixed the twins up once -- that he knows of. "It is a little bit of a challenge," he said.
As for the new captains, they both said they enjoy being stationed with their sibling. "This is the best thing that could happen because I've got a great friend that I can bounce things off of and someone to hang out with," Darrell said.
Both soldiers said they were influenced in their career choice by their parents. Their father, Levi Lyles, spent four years on active duty before becoming a minister, while mother Wanda Lyles retired from the National Guard as a master sergeant.
"I remember seeing my mom in uniform," Derrick said. "They both brought a lot of discipline -- if pops said something once, you did it."
Levi Lyles said he and his wife are concerned, but proud, of the choice made by their sons.
"They went in when the war was going on," he said. "I never said anything; they followed their heart, and I just ask God to watch over them every day."
The twins said they were never tempted -- at least not too much -- to fill in for the other, whether it was for class, a date or during a meeting.
"It might have crossed our minds, but we would have never done it," Derrick said. "Although we look alike, our personalities are completely different. We would have been caught."
Darrell's wife, Lisa, said there was one occasion when the brothers attempted to pull the switcheroo on her, but she outsmarted them.
"I had just started dating Darrell and was going to his place to meet his brother," she recalled. "I knocked on the door and I heard Darrell tell his brother, 'You answer the door and tell her you're me.'"
"When I went in, they looked just alike so I didn't sit by either one of them. Then I noticed that Darrell was wearing the same pair of sweatpants I saw him in earlier in the day."
"But if it hadn't been for that, it would have been tough.”
(Chuck Cannon works in the Fort Polk public affairs office.)