Twins contemplate life together, apart
April 19, 2012
FORT LEE, Va. (April 26, 2012) -- Pvts. Keana and Kenisha Dillon exhibit all of the characteristics of identical twins: they look alike, think similar thoughts and respond to questions in unison.
And if you let either one of them tell it, they are inseparable.
"We're really, really close," said Kenisha. "She's like my best friend, actually. If she died, I don't know what I'd do. I really don't."
The 18-year-olds are advanced individual training Army National Guard Soldiers assigned to Mike Company, 244th Quartermaster Battalion, 23rd QM Brigade. Also college students who currently share an apartment in Tampa, Fla., the two are natives of small-town Brookhaven, Miss., where they enjoyed a certain level of notoriety.
"It was like we were little celebrities, I guess," said Kenisha. "Anywhere we would go, it was like attention, attention, attention."
As grown women, the twins said they still receive a lot of attention "because people seem to be amazed by twins," said Keana. Sometimes the interest gets a little old.
"People will see that we look exactly alike, but they always ask one dumb question," said Keana. "'Are you twins?''' they replied in unison. "I'd be like, 'No, we just look alike,'" added Keana in a sarcastic tone.
And they do. Medium in figure and roughly the same height and weight, the twins' facial features are very similar. Only different hairstyles and hair colors distinguish them.
From a behavioral standpoint, they exhibit the same mannerisms, seem to be talkative and sociable, and both are quick to flash smiles reminiscent of a top fashion model, but they are dissimilar as well, said Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Kelly, their platoon sergeant.
"One is very quiet and soft-spoken and doesn't want to draw attention," he said. "The other one is very boisterous."
That would be Kenisha, who is a theater major like her sister and has no shortage of self-esteem.
"I can sum up all that I am in one word," she said: "'Awesome,' with a capital A."
The differences in personality provide balance to the relationship but like many with strong emotional attachments to one another, there are clashes, disagreements and disharmony. Kenisha provided a little context to their loving but sometimes contentious relationship.
"When you're a twin, your relationship is weird, because she's somebody you can't live with or without," she said. "Sometimes we're around each other too much and it'll be like, 'Man, you know what? You're getting on my nerves.'"
Kenisha added that no matter how many nerves are disturbed, the tension never lasts for long.
"Sometimes we literally argue every day, but we'll be back to friends in the next 10 seconds," she said.
The Dillons joined the National Guard last year, underwent basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., and are now in the fifth week of the nine-week automated logistics specialist course. They are in the same class, and that's a measure of comfort to them, considering they were separated for the first time during basic training.
"When we were split up, it had to be the worst two months of my life," said Kenisha. "I was like, 'This is ridiculous.' I only got to see her every Sunday (for chapel services)."
The two were assigned to different companies located next to each other. That might as well have been the next solar system, said Keana, who felt the effects of the separation more so than her sister.
"I was overwhelmed with the whole process," she said. "I was like, 'Oh my God, this (the Army) is not for me!' I prayed, 'Lord, please just let me see my sister.'"
The separation brought to light not only issues of adulthood and independence but the prospect of being apart. The two are in different ARNG units so there is the possibility of separate deployments. On top of that, Keana is engaged. Kenisha indicated that she's given the separation issue some thought but conscientiously not enough to grasp what can and may happen.
"I just know I don't want to be without her," she said.
Keana's engagement has moved her further along in the contemplation stage. She seems to be more realistic but insists nothing will alter what she shares with her sister.
"Eventually, I'm going to move out and move in with my fiancé/future husband," she said. "There won't be any more of us staying together in the apartment, being roommates, but it'll still be the same. I'm going to call. We'll still go out and have fun. My husband/fiancé is not going to change the relationship between my sister and me."
Despite what the future may bring, Keana said their experiences in the Army have prepared her for the road ahead.
"I've gotten through the tough part, and that was basic (training)," she said. "Everything else is easy."
It seems so. Kelly said the sisters are model Soldiers.
"They're never late, they're good in school; everything we've asked them to do, they've gone above and beyond," he said.
The Dillons attend Hillsborough Community College and plan to pursue acting and modeling after college.