Story by A1C Mercedes Porter on 06/18/2019It's rare -- traveling through life as an individual, but also sharing that journey with someone who shares the same DNA.
What is also rare is for that journey through life to be so similar that even when the odds are against being together, the world has its ways.
Brothers Nathan and Nicholas Lathers came into the world together identical twins. Now adults, the pair has traversed the beginnings of their military careers together.
Their Air Force journeys began together, entwined from the very start. Not only did they enter Basic Military Training (BMT) at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, together, but they were in the same training flight.
"After nine weeks, they still couldn't tell us apart," said Nathan. "I got yelled at a lot to wear glasses even though I had never had to wear glasses."
After basic training, they both ended up in the fuels career field and went to technical training together at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. The interwoven nature of their military careers didn't stop there. They got their orders for their next duty station, and coincidentally, they both were selected for assignment to Dyess Air Force Base.
They actually selected bases on the East Coast on our assignment preference sheet, Nathan said. They wanted to be somewhat close to family.
"We fully went in knowing that chances are we might not see each other for a year or two," Nicholas added. "But it worked out for us."
At Dyess, the brothers are both in the fuels flight in the 7th Logistics Readiness Squadron, and both are working to make good names for themselves.
"You can tell they were raised right, and they are extremely smart," said Tech. Sgt. Talvin Hayes, 7th LRS NCO in charge of fuels and environmental safety. "They easily have a work ethic that stands out, they are extremely professional. They are going to go a long way."
That's a statement any parent would want to hear that their children were raised right.
The twins' father, John, a retired Marine, said, "I've mentored my sons as best as I could and couldn't be more proud of the young men they've become.
"As an active-duty Marine, I served all over the world and learned firsthand just how unique and amazing our country really is," he added. "So when the twins decided to enlist, I was very proud of their decision to better themselves by serving in the Air Force."
The twins' mother, Belinda, was less thrilled at first to learn that her youngest boys would enter the service. They have an older son who is an Air Force Reservist.
"At first I was terrified for the safety and security of my boys, but then I was quickly filled with pride -- pride my sons are willing to stand up for our country and serve in the armed forces," she said. "This was followed by the relief they would initially be together in their training and hopeful they would continue to be each other's wingman' no matter where life takes them."
While on duty, the twins focus on ensuring quality fuel is stored, maintained and delivered where it needs to go on base, whether that's a generator or an aircraft. They play a vital role in ensuring both the 7th Bomb Wing and 317th Airlift Wing missions at Dyess Air Force Base are accomplished.
The job is critical. Without it, aircraft don't fly. Cargo doesn't get delivered. Bombs don't get dropped. The unit, however, still makes room for fun and cultivating a positive working environment.
In the short time they've been serving, Airmen First Class Nicholas and Nathan Lathers have caused a little confusion, a little frustration and a lot of laughter along the way.
"Sergeant Hayes had a lot of fun walking around and showing us off," Nicholas said.
The pair caused double-takes when they were inprocessing and still do. For anyone who doesn't know them well, it's difficult to tell them apart. Sergeant Hayes noted a birthmark on one of them, and he noted that one wore older boots than the other. For him, that's nearly the extent of their differences.
"It fills me with joy to know they still create a little confusion whenever in the same room and can only feel for the instructors, students and peers they see each day," Mrs. Lathers said.
Hayes marveled at the coincidence of their lives and service.
"Twins alone are unique. The odds alone aren't very high, let alone having them in the same flight. They didn't come in on any buddy program, they came in on their own. Ended up in the same (career field)," said Sergeant Hayes. "They got the same date for BMT, went through basic training and tech school together. Both got orders to the exact same base without even trying, which I think is crazy.
"Like, what are the odds of this? I've been in for about 12 years, and I've just personally never seen it, so I thought it was unique," he added.
The Lathers twins are glad for their decision to join, they agreed.
"We both decided that rather than keep doing the same thing over and over again, we would join the Air Force and better ourselves," Nicholas said.
The Air Force provides opportunities, challenges and rewards. For the Lathers twins, it's provided an opportunity to immerse themselves into the military lifestyle with a lifelong, built-in wingman. For any opportunity that arises or challenge that presents itself, they'll have one another.
"It would be wonderful for them to continue serving close to each other and sharing these new experiences. Both are amazing young men, and together they will continue to expect excellence from themselves and others," their mother said.