Face of Defense: Twin Defenders Share Same Military Story
By Air Force Senior Airman Michael Battles
31st Fighter Wing
AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy, Nov. 12, 2013 Saying goodbye to one’s family is part of joining the Air Force. But for two brothers here, saying goodbye to each other is one thing they have yet to experience.
Air Force A1Cs Ja and Woo Lee check a service member’s identification card Nov. 5, 2013, at Aviano Air Base, Italy. The 20 year-old identical twins are 31st Security Forces Squadron defenders. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael Battles
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Air Force A1Cs Woo and Ja Lee, 20-year-old identical twins from Fresno, Calif., have shared not only their civilian life, but to their surprise, a military career.
Enlisting together, the twins assumed they would be separated upon arrival at basic military training. But they not only were assigned to the same training squadron, but were assigned to the same flight as well, a trend that would continue through the first year of their careers.
"When we enlisted, we thought we would leave together and that would be it until graduation," Woo said. "Once we knew we would be in the same training flight, it was amazing. Who wouldn't want to have a family member there for support?"
After their nine-week basic training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas, the twins moved only a few minutes down the road to start their technical school at the security forces training detachment. As with their initial training, the twins believed they would be separated into different classes, but they quickly learned that their paths would cross again.
"We always knew that we would see each other again after basic training, because we were going into the same career field," Ja said. "We had no idea that it would be the same exact class and that we would also share the same dorm room while in training."
While in the middle of defender training, the twins received word that their orders had been processed for their first duty assignment after graduation: the twins would be stationed together here.
"It was unbelievable," Ja said. "How was it possible that we keep following each other? We had no idea if this was normal or not, but it was perfect for us. How many people can say that they get to serve their country with their brother in Italy?"
"I was honestly thrilled that we got the same orders," Woo said. "I was also surprised because [the instructors] said I wouldn't be stationed with him."
Upon their arrival here, their sponsor took them to the dorm room they will share for two their two-year tour of duty here. During their in-processing, the twins learned they would go through the same security forces training here and would work in the same flight.
"It was great, because now that we’re here together, we get to have some harmless fun," Ja said. "Sometimes we pull the twin switch, but quickly laugh it off and reveal there are two of us."
In the coming months, the Lee twins will work through their upgrade training and learn the skills necessary to be a defender in the Air Force.
"It's been a great journey so far. I've met so many people here who have become family to both of us," Woo said. "Having him here with me has truly made my experience here more memorable."
Though the brothers both live and work together, that does not deter them from hanging out after duty hours. The pair can often be found on the basketball court playing a game of one-on-one. "We tend to hang out a lot of after work together," Woo said. "We have the same group of friends, the same interest in sports and music, so it's a perfect situation we have here."
The brothers said they hope to continue their identical journey at their next assignment. Both have expressed an interest in serving a short tour in South Korea.
"Our heritage is from Korea, and we also have family who lives there," Ja said. "So why not try to experience the next part of that career together as well?"