BOISE, Idaho — Col. Jim Hicks, director of the Idaho National Guard’s Human Resource Office, enlisted his 19-year-old twin sons into the Idaho Army National Guard Feb. 16. The twins will serve in the same unit together in the same military occupational specialty.
“I never pushed my kids to join the military,” Hicks said. “They both took a gap year and worked retail. After a while, they could see the value of the Guard’s bonuses and education benefits.”
Grayson and Riley Hicks enlisted into the 1st of the 183rd Assault Helicopter Battalion and will serve as 25U signal support specialists. Each received a $20,000 bonus for their commitment.
“We like doing things together and we are both interested in cybersecurity. Why not do it together?” said Grayson.
Grayson and Riley, born two hours apart, will attend basic and advanced individual training together later this year. Both plan to attend college to study cybersecurity when they return home. Each sees the Guard as a path to success.
“Enlisting was a good way to enhance my job future,” Grayson said. “It brings me closer to doing cybersecurity. I can get a security clearance, job experience and training.”
Soldiers with four years of network experience who reach the rank of staff sergeant are eligible to become 25D cyber network defenders.
For Riley, the National Guard offered him the opportunity to build skills outside of training and work.
“I like to procrastinate,“ he said. “It’s going to be a good way to build discipline so I can succeed in life.”
Hicks’ military career began in 1988 after his father drove him to Gowen Field and told him he was going to enlist into the Idaho Air National Guard. He transferred to the Idaho Army National Guard in 1993. While he never pressured his sons to join the National Guard, he did make sure they knew about the benefits of Guard service. However, he said it wasn’t until his sons watched their childhood friend, Ian Velvick, graduate from the Air Force’s basic training that they started thinking seriously about enlisting themselves.
“They both realized that there’s a bigger world out there,” Hicks said. “Their friend enlisting into the Air Force and seeing all the things he was going to do next was a good mechanism for them to see that.”
After Grayson and Riley decided to enlist, their dad got to swear them in together.
“It was a very proud moment as a father seeing my sons take a step into the world of adulthood,” he said. “But I was also nervous as a parent. How did my little boys grow up so fast?”
Growing up, Hicks said his twins did everything together. He wasn’t surprised they both wanted to serve together.
“I’ll have a built-in battle buddy,” said Riley. “It’s exciting because I’ll get to experience something super fun with my brother.”
Hicks said the ability for his kids to attend college to get their degrees and serve part-time was a huge reason his sons decided to join the Idaho Army National Guard over other branches.
“I think the National Guard is really great at developing young individuals into future leaders of Idaho and America.”
For more information about career opportunities in the Army, visit GoArmy.com.