'Twin Towers' wrap up basic training
December 10, 2010
- Identical pair had drill sergeants, Soldiers seeing double this fall
FORT BENNING, Ga. (Dec. 10, 2010) - A set of identical twins made it through basic training this fall. In the process, they left behind a trace of confusion on Sand Hill.
Pvts. Gerrod and Sherrod Loud took part in A Company, 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment's graduation Thursday on the parade field next to the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center at Patriot Park - but not before giving the unit's drill sergeants fits at times trying to distinguish the two.
"They get mad sometimes," Gerrod said Monday at battalion headquarters. "They'll come see me about something he did, and I have no idea what they're talking about."
After arriving in October, the Louds landed in the same platoon. But Sherrod was sent to 3rd Platoon and the brothers given different-colored tape for their glasses and camel packs to help identify them.
The affable pair smiled all the time. Gerrod turned out to be better at marksmanship, while Sherrod was stronger in physical tasks. Very little else set them apart.
"Right now, I think other Soldiers can tell the difference," Sherrod said, "but the drill sergeants still don't know for sure."
The 19-year-old twins stand 6-foot-2 and weigh more than 250 pounds. 1st Lt. Jose Elizabeth, the company's executive officer, nicknamed them the "Twin Towers" when the cycle started.
"Their motivation was higher than the average Soldier - I noticed that the first day," he said. "They were the guys to go to for motivation the whole time."
Natives of Albany, Ga., the Louds excelled as defensive linemen at Worth County High School and graduated in 2009. They had football scholarship offers from several schools, including Kentucky, Alabama-Birmingham, Western Michigan and Georgia State. The two spent a year at the latter in Atlanta but never played for the Panthers, who just completed their inaugural season.
The duo didn't care much for the big city, they said, and decided to join the Army instead.
"We wanted to get a foundation for our careers," Gerrod said, "and we always wanted to serve our country."
The twins said basic training has been fun, but hard, and they've learned more about teamwork, discipline, courage and leadership.
"When we first separated them, they both looked like they'd been shot," said Sgt. 1st Class Randy Confer, 1st Platoon's senior drill sergeant. "It was probably the first time in their lives they'd been separated for any length of time."
Staff Sgt. Sean Velasco, another drill sergeant, said the Louds constantly gravitated toward one another, no matter how small the activity. It could be on a road march, shooting range or even doing laundry.
"Everywhere we went, they always found each other," he said. "If we couldn't find one, we just went to the other."
Training twins in the same company certainly presented some challenges, said Staff Sgt. Kiettisak Bennett, also a drill sergeant.
"They're good Soldiers," he said. "(But) it was tough keeping track of which one was which at first."
The brothers didn't help matters on one occasion, switching their color-labeled camel packs.
"We had a little fun with that just to see if they could tell us apart," Gerrod said. "They couldn't. They got frustrated and said, 'Just get outta my face.'"
Another time, the drill sergeants believed the "Twin Towers" swapped places for an Army physical fitness test, even though that never happened.
"They tried to play that little game - 'It wasn't me, it was my brother,'" Confer said. "I'm sure they did that a lot at home, too."
Other Soldiers confused them for the same person when basic training began.
"When we first got here, they'd be like, 'How'd you change clothes so fast''" Sherrod recalled. "After a while, the drill sergeants would just ask us, 'What Loud are you, 1st Platoon Loud or 3rd Platoon Loud''"
Their bond transcended all conventional wisdom a few weeks ago. Just before Thanksgiving, they both got sick and spent three days in the infirmary.
"(The drill sergeants) thought we were faking it till they took our temperature and it was exactly the same," Sherrod said.
When it came down to business, however, the twins worked hard and handled themselves well under pressure, unit leaders said. On company road marches, they always pushed other Soldiers to keep the team moving.
Both said they hope to forge 20-year Army careers and get into Officer Candidate School someday after completing their degrees. Gerrod is interested in biology or engineering, while Sherrod wants to earn a bachelor's in communications or marketing.
They're set to start Signal School and advanced individual training Dec. 18 at Fort Gordon, Ga.