Is it common for siblings to serve together?
“Legacy” service members are certainly common enough. People who have a family history of military service, and choose to follow in their relatives’ footsteps. It makes sense, then, that two siblings from the same lineage may be more inclined to serve together.
After we posted our article on these identical twin sisters who serve together in the Air Force, we got feedback from another set of identical twins, saying, “We did, too!”
Scott and James Sargent, of New Lenox, Illinois, joined the Army National Guard in June of 1989 — before either of them had even turned 18.
Basic Training for Twins
“We started thinking about joining the military when we were in high school,” Scott recalled. “Since they had the option to join when you were 17, and stay at home and go to college, that’s what we did.”
While the brothers were close, they didn’t join the Army to spend time together; they actually joined to be apart.
“Our relationship was tight, but we were always lumped together as kids,” James explained. “In boot camp we thought we would finally be separated… but we were thrown in the same platoon!”
Their basic training experience was what you would expect. When they first arrived, people could not tell them apart, and as twins they were nothing short of a novelty. They were subject to constant jabs from their drill sergeants. Their last name, “Sargent”, only worsened the experience.
“Having an identical twin is a blessing and a curse,” James said. “We were always associated as ‘the twins’, not James and Scott. A lot of people would love to have a twin, and we were just the same in wondering what it would be like to be the only one.”
Even so, they have a close bond, and remain in New Lenox together to this day. As Scott remarked, “he can be your best friend and worst enemy in the same day,” — not so unlike other sibling relationships.
Infantry in the National Guard
Scott and James gained their individuality through different squads and MOSs. Scott was an infantry scout, and James was a mortarman. Though they were in the same platoon, they were rarely together.
“We were in boot camp when the Invasion of Kuwait first came out in August of ‘90. Illinois had quite a few units get sent over there to Saudi Arabia and Iraq, but our unit never went because it was a light infantry unit — they didn’t really take light infantry because the war was more mechanized,” Scott stated.
It didn’t mean they didn’t see their fair share of action, though. Their unit was activated in 1990 for a tornado that tore through the Joliet area. In ‘93, they were active for six weeks after a flood on the Mississippi River. They also completed training in both Honduras and Germany.
“My best memory is with mortars and live fires we had on the ranges,” James said.
“Here you drag around this big heavy mortar, until you set it up and start firing it. That’s what you’re trained to do — otherwise it’s just a piece of pipe laying in the back of the humvee.”
In ‘94, Scott was involved in an accident in southeast Colorado with the 4th Infantry Division. His humvee rolled over, hyperextending his knee. James immediately knew that something had happened.
“I felt like something was wrong. It was probably a day later that one of the medics finally came and asked me if I had heard about my brother,” James recounted.
“I tell people, it’s just like when you get a gut feeling or intuition. And when you have it, you say, ‘I wonder if something’s wrong with him?’ You just start to think like that.”
James left the Guard in ‘97, after eight years of service. Scott left after nine.
Using the part-time commitment of the National Guard, Scott went to school to become a teacher. James is currently a utility worker for Nicor Gas, an opportunity that became available to him because of his veteran status.
“I’m a firm believer that you can tell the difference between people who have served in any sort of military capacity, as opposed to people who have not. Most veterans are loyal, used to being supervised and being on time. That just goes with the military, so it’s not that different coming out to a job,” James said.
“It trains people to be better people,” Scott added.
They can acknowledge their differences; Scott claims that he is more of an extrovert, while James views Scott as more “white collar”. In the end, however, they both believe that the military made them stronger as siblings — and stronger as people, too.
“It makes you more patriotic,” Scott said. “You appreciate everything.”
“When it comes down to it, the National Guard was a lot of fun, but you still put your name on the line. You’ll stand in front of bullets if you have to.”