By STEVE REEVES, Fort Jackson LeaderAugust 20, 2009
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Growing up in a small town north of Chicago, brothers Brian and Corey Vaughn did nearly everything together.
"We've always had all the same jobs, the same hobbies, the same friends," Corey said.
"We're best friends," added Brian. "We've always been together."
And Aug. 28, the twins, from Prairie View, Ill., will graduate together from Basic Combat Training here at Fort Jackson.
"It's just one more thing that we'll have in common," Corey said.
Like most twins, the two learned at an early age to deal with the stares of strangers and to brush off the teasing from friends.
Even at BCT, the two said they are often subjected to good-natured jokes about the difficulty of telling them apart by their drill sergeants and fellow recruits.
"Surprisingly, though, a lot of the recruits here have figured out how to tell us apart a lot quicker than the people back home because we're together 24 hours a day," Corey said.
The brothers began the path that brought them to Fort Jackson's Company D, 1st Battalion, 61st Infantry Regiment at an early age.
Their father was a firefighter, a career the two said was practically preordained for them.
"We both knew all of our lives we would be firefighters," Brian said. "It's kind of a family thing."
And they did grow up to be firefighters together. They joined at the same time, training to be Emergency Medical Technicians. Each brother even got one half of a Maltese cross, a firefighter symbol, tattooed on his arm.
Brian also wanted to be in the military and decided to speak with an Illinois National Guard recruiter.
"My whole life I'd always wanted a career where I can help people," he said. "And that's kind of what the National Guard is all about.
When Bryan went with a friend to talk to a recruiter, Corey tagged along, though at the time he had no intention of joining.
"The only reason I went to see the recruiter was because I had nothing to do that day," Corey said. "I ended up listening to what the recruiter was saying and it sounded pretty good."
The next step was convincing their parents, which wasn't all that hard.
"At first they had a lot of questions, but overall they were very supportive," Brian said.
Once at Fort Jackson, it did not take the brothers long to get noticed, and not just for their similar appearance.
"They're both just very high performers," said Capt. James Watson, the twins' company commander. "They are very much go-getters."
Watson said he began tracking the brothers' progress after he first noticed them at the zero range the beginning of Basic Rifle Marksmanship.
"I saw a Soldier shooting really well," Watson said. "I looked at his name and saw it was Vaughn."
A little bit later, Watson saw what appeared to be the same Soldier, but this time he was struggling to zero his weapon.
"My first question to him was, 'Are you playing with me' You were doing so well just a few minutes ago.'"
Watson said the Vaughn brothers, who were placed in separate platoons, push each other, and that makes their fellow Soldiers work harder, as well.
"They're really not competing against each other," Watson said. "They're both just very ambitious and high achievers. In the end, it's a win for the Army."
Brian is a little better than his brother at marksmanship, while Corey is tops at the Army Physical Fitness Test. The two have squared off twice against each other in combatives while in BCT, with Brian winning the first match and Corey taking the second one.
"Everybody holds us to that standard," Brian said. "People are always saying, 'Oh, you let your brother beat you.' Sometimes it gets annoying, but you get used to it."
Though Corey and Brian look alike physically, their personalities are different.
"I'm the crazy one," Corey said. "I like to joke around a lot."
Brian described himself as the more serious of the two.
"When it comes to work, I'm more of a leader," he said.
Actually, both Soldiers have proven themselves as leaders in BCT.
Brian is up for Soldier of the Cycle, while Corey is a squad leader.
Both said it was great having a brother to lean on when BCT got tough. But they also said the experience has taught them the value of independence.