By Sgt. Vincent FuscoDecember 4, 2008
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Army News Service, Dec. 4, 2008) -- When many people see a set of twins, they do a double-take and with the Friedewald brothers, many look again to realize one is wearing the black, gold and gray of Army; and the other is wearing Navy blue and gold.
Pete Friedewald is a first-class cadet at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and his twin brother, Nick, is a first-class midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. They are a pair that invites curiosity from each service academy, regardless of rivalry.
Over Army-Navy football weekends, the brothers make a plan to celebrate each service equally. During the first half of the game, they sit in their respective seating areas; then each quarter in the second half, the brothers cross academy lines to be with each other.
Both Ann Arbor, Mich., natives have interests in intramural rowing. Both were on the crew team in high school and attended the Navy's crew camps. Pete's decision to attend West Point was based on high-school ambition, and Nick entered Annapolis when he was recruited for the crew team after graduation.
Since they entered their respective service academies, Pete and Nick have been able to meet up at Army-Navy sports, such as this weekend's football game in Philadelphia, and other events. They often bring their classmates along, who get to learn about how the other academy lives. One of Nick's classmates was even able to attend West Point for an exchange semester with Pete as his roommate.
"It has actually been really cool meeting Pete's friends at school," Nick said. "I've made it up there to visit a couple times, and he has come down to Annapolis. Pete has become good friends with a lot of the guys on my crew team."
In the last year, their friends have meshed together and started doing things as a group, such as visiting with friends and family in northern New Jersey, Pete said.
"One night we'll hang out with all of his friends, then one night all of my friends," Pete said. "Every once in awhile, we'll go down there to have dinner."
Once people learn about the brothers' alma maters, many assume their family must either be pro-Army, pro-Navy or are constantly at odds with each other.
"Nobody in my family really takes sides or anything," Pete said. "Everybody asks, 'oh, Thanksgiving must be crazy, half the table's wearing West Point stuff and half the table's wearing Navy'' We just have dinner like everybody else."
Their family is proud of their acceptance into the military academies and generally makes no issue about which school might be better, Nick said.
"I think my mom likes the Navy idea a little better because she thinks being on a ship is less dangerous," Nick said. "I'm sure they're also glad that they didn't have to pay for twins to go to college at the same time."
The brothers will face very different futures in the military upon commission. Pete has branched engineers, and Nick will attend nuclear power school to begin training to become a submarine officer.
In the time Pete and Nick's friends spent learning about each other, they found that the academies draw the same kind of people with the same life experiences. For them, Army-Navy football games are just a time to bring cadets and midshipmen together, no matter who wins on the field.
"Although Army-Navy is the famous rivalry, it doesn't really feel like rivalry to us," Pete said. "Army-Navy for us is an opportunity for everyone to get together. The actual game is kind of secondary for us."
(Sgt. Vincent Fusco serves with the Directorate of Communications at West Point.)