Three of a kind
February 4, 2014
The chances of being an identical triplet are more than a million to one. The odds those triplets would join the Army and become engineer officers are even more astronomical.
"When people tell me something can't be done I always tell them nothing is impossible. Our whole life story has been about beating the odds." said Capt. Joseph Claros, one of three identical brothers and an engineering officer at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Far East District Pyeongtaek Resident Office.
Capt. Joseph Claros, along with his brothers Maj. Donald Claros and Capt. Jack Claros were born in San Salvador, El Salvador, during the Salvadoran civil war. Their parents, searching for a better life, moved the family to the Los Angeles area and eventually to Spokane, Wash., where they all initially enlisted in the Washington Army National Guard in 1998.
"After a few years being enlisted we liked it and then it became a sense of repaying back this great nation of ours for allowing my parents to emigrate from El Salvador to provide a better life for us," said Joseph.
They attended Washington State University and were commissioned in 2002.
"The Claros brothers are extraordinary individuals. We were fortunate to have them in WSU's Reserve Officer Training Course program for almost four years," said Jim Zuba, the unit's former commander. "Those three made an unbelievable difference in both their leadership and everything they provided to their peers and our university."
When it came time to choose a military specialty the engineering field appealed to all three.
"Donald and I liked the diversification of the [engineering] corps. You have the ability to do a multitude of tasking/missions as opposed to other branches. Jack has an architecture degree so it was a great fit for all of us," said Joseph.
After graduation they separated due to the needs of the Army and individual goals. Donald moved to Phoenix and joined the Arizona Army National Guard. Joseph was assigned to active duty at the 1st Cavalry Division in Fort Hood, Texas. Jack joined the Washington Army National Guard.
All three served in Iraq at various times between 2003 and 2005. Jack and Joseph have also been deployed to Afghanistan, while Donald supported the Task Force Diamondback mission, providing tactical infrastructure support to U.S. Customs and Border protection security efforts stateside in Arizona. These experiences have allowed them to maintain close ties and share stories when needed over the years.
"Having the ability to tap one of my brothers on the shoulder, to gain insight into how to deal with specific situations or bounce an idea around, it is something special because you know with full certainty that your brothers will be candid and honest about the advice they provide you, based on their perspective and experience," said Jack. "You have other peers to also run ideas by but nothing as strong as that of your brothers."
"We all have deployed with engineer units and have all had different experiences come up throughout our careers. I have mostly done survivability and mobility missions, horizontal construction and my other brothers have done other primary missions, but asking each other for help or exterior view point has helped out," said Donald. We have all been company commanders at different times and have provided input to one another."
Joseph transferred over to the logistics branch in 2013 is now able to do cross functional jobs in logistics and engineering. He says he values the time spent in the engineering field and often hears stories about his brothers.
"We have all met Soldiers from each other's command time. It's good to hear them say great things about your brother like, 'sir your brother, he is a great commander.' said Joseph. "It's great to see that we all do great things in our own way. Yet the corps is small when you hear stories like the one above."
All three brothers intend to retire from the Army saying their devotion to serve is something they strongly believe in. Something else they strongly believe in is keeping the binds close that tie each other to family.
"Life is full of complexities and though it can be difficult sometimes family will always be there to get you through anything," said Jack. "The bond of family should be valued even when there are differences of opinions." Most importantly never hold grudges when it comes to family, always learn to forgive."