Class of 2024 Cadet David Esqueda has many fond memories growing up with his twin brother, Class of 2024 Midshipman Eric Esqueda. Such memories of sitting together with his family as a young boy to watch the Army-Navy Game or attending the same school and classes with Eric growing up. But now, all of that is pushed to the wayside as the Army-Navy Game steadily approaches — fanning the flames for the sibling rivalry taking place 256 miles between the twins.
Brothers become competitors — steel sharpens steel — as they serve in their respective academies, the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy.
“My grandpa was in the Navy, my dad was in the Navy, my uncle was in the Navy and then my older brother Adam — he just graduated out of the Naval Academy so (Eric) felt like the Naval Academy was the best route to take because he always wanted to be a Marine Corps Officer,” David said. “I really had this attachment to West Point and all these years watching the Army-Navy Game — my entire family always went for the Navy because of our Naval background. I was pretending to go for Navy, but I really wanted the Army to win.”
For David, the Army was the best choice to him. Despite having a family legacy built on the repute of the Navy, David was surrounded by the Army culture as a child.
Originally from El Paso, Texas, the home of Fort Bliss, David met many Army officers while visiting Fort Bliss on multiple occasions. This exposure to Army culture is part of what cultivated his desire to one day join West Point and become an Army officer.
“I feel like the Army was the best fit for me because the opportunities the branch presented,” David said. “Visiting Fort Bliss allowed me to meet many great people who enlisted in the Army. I fell in love with the Army culture and I feel it’s the best fit for me personally.”
Conversely, during his senior year in high school, Eric was contacted by a Marine Corps recruiter after visiting their office.
With his genuine desire to join the U.S. Naval Academy, Eric attended intensive workout regiments, reached the pinnacle of his academic prowess in high school and applied to the U.S. Naval Academy.
“During the workouts, I associated with the (Marine Corps) and I learned to love the culture and through my experiences leading up to joining the Naval Academy, I established a desire to be a part of the Marine Corps community — the family-oriented part of the Marine Corps culture,” Eric said. “The desire was cultivated thanks to our family’s legacy.”
Whether it was competing in sports, school clubs, or picking the next presidential candidate during the election process, the twin brothers are always trying to answer the ever-present question of who’s the better man? Both twins went as far as serving their country to answer that question.
However, for David, he feels joining the Army was not just about the fantastic, rugged lifestyle and culture — it was also a way of severing the thread that always kept the twins together as a package deal. Joining the Army would make it easier to determine who is the better man, David said.
“We were always together and we have a strong bond with each other, but for as long as I can remember, we tried separating ourselves trying to prove who was better,” David said. “Some people would say I was the better twin. Some people would say he’s the better twin and I feel that’s the huge driving point of my life — finding out who is truly better by becoming our individual selves regardless of being twins.”
With both brothers integrating themselves into their respective components, it is only natural to defend the integrity of one’s own military branch — and what better way to do that than meeting face-to-face to watch the Army-Navy Game live at Michie Stadium, Eric added.
“I’m going to enjoy being able to go to West Point. It’s going to be a great experience going to the Army-Navy Game and seeing the stomping grounds and my brother,” Eric said of venturing to West Point for the game.
David said he’s been looking forward to this event all year. Ever since the twins accepted their appointments to their respective academies, he’s waited to face Eric in the battle of commentating on the game with him — who will call the game with more accuracy?
“We’ve been talking about the game — going back and forth about who’s going to get their butt kicked. We want this football game to define which is the better service academy and obviously, this year, Army is going to win,” David said.
Eric countered his brother’s statement by weighing deeply into players’ stats and how the Navy has performed overall leading up to the Army-Navy Game.
“I think Navy is going to win due to playing a tougher schedule than Army, even though Army has been doing really well this year,” Eric said. “Because of that tough schedule, Navy has a good shot of beating Army again this year.”
While both brothers are using this competitive drive to develop their idiosyncrasies, defending and preserving the country’s prosperity is fundamental to their sibling rivalry, Eric said.
While their rivalry keeps both of them focused on achieving their goals in their respective academies, it is an honor for the two twins to continue the family legacy in serving their country and becoming future leaders in the officer ranks.
“The great thing about the Army-Navy Game rivalry is the bond — there is bond that forms between the Army and the Navy-Marine Corps team that is used in the fleet,” Eric said. “It’s a very serious rivalry but at the end of the day, we’re all on the same team. If our nation called, we are all working together to defeat the enemy.”