FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — For 18 years, the Acevedo twins have been inseparable — same school, same friends, same extracurricular activities — and now they can add, same Army Basic Combat Training unit to that list.
Pvt. Andrea Acevedo, a trainee with Company B, 1st Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment, said she has been thinking about being a Soldier since she was 13 years old.
“At first, my family thought I was just kidding. After a while they realized I was serious, and they started supporting the idea,” Andrea said.
Her twin sister, Pvt. Diana Acevedo, also with Bravo Company, said the military was never on her radar until Andrea started meeting with a National Guard recruiter.
“I didn’t actually think she would join. And yet, here we are,” Diana said with a chuckle.
Diana was born first but said Andrea has always been the more responsible and levelheaded leader of the duo.
“She is technically younger, but she acts older than me,” Diana said.
As the twins were nearing graduation this spring from the Tulsa Honor Academy in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Andrea said she started thinking hard about her future.
She said they are the first people in her family to join the U.S. military, so deciding to pursue an Army career was unknown territory for her and her family.
The twins’ mother, Teresa Almader, said joining the Army at the age of 17 was a hard decision for her girls to make, but she thinks they made the right choice.
“It takes a lot of courage to make that decision. They were smart to accept the challenge and change their future for the better,” Almader said. “I am immensely proud of them — for their courage to change their world.”
Their father, Hector Acevedo, said he, “wanted to cry” when they told him they were going to be Soldiers in the U.S. Army because he was rejoicing in the wonderful future they were building for themselves.
Almader said she has been missing her daughters while they are away at training but thinks Fort Leonard Wood is the best place for her twins to be right now.
“When I think of my girls — which is almost all the time — I remember when they were born, so tiny, weighing just 3 pounds. I still think I'm going to go into their room and see the two of them there, like always,” Almader said. “Seeing them in their Army uniform will be a great pride for our family and soon, we will be together again.”
Andrea said she dreams of becoming a nurse one day and believes the Army is the best way for her to reach her highest potential.
“I interned at a hospital, and I really liked it,” Andrea said. “As a 68W Combat Medic, I will be getting the experience I need to be closer to that goal, and the Army National Guard is my gateway to college.”
She said she didn’t want to burden her parents with trying to pay for two college tuitions at the same time, so that is when she went to the Army’s website, filled out the contact form and submitted her phone number.
“I felt like I needed to find a way to pay for my college, so my parents could try to pay for Diana’s,” Andrea said.
A day after her 17th birthday, her phone rang — it was a recruiter.
“I explored my options and I believe the National Guard is the best fit for me. I want to be able to continue my education while I serve,” Andrea said.
Diana, who has dreams of becoming a dentist one day, said she loved the idea of being able to use her Army career to support her ambition.
Diana and Andrea enlisted at the same time, with the same military occupational specialty. When they received their orders for BCT, they realized they were both headed to Fort Leonard Wood.
“When we got to Fort Leonard Wood, we fully expected to be separated,” Andrea said. “But everywhere I went, there she was, too.”
They said they couldn’t believe they ended up in the same battalion, same company, same platoon and even share the same bunk.
“We have been together for 18 years, and I was mentally prepared to be without her, but I am glad we ended up together,” Diana said.
They both said they are savoring their time in BCT.
“I really love it. It is fun,” Diana said. “We are doing so many new things we have never had the chance to do before.”
She said her favorite training event so far was the gas chamber because, “it was so interesting.” The gas chamber is a room that has a controlled concentration of CS gas (2-chlorobenzylidene malononitrile), more commonly known as tear gas. This training is designed to give the trainees confidence in their ability to operate and maintain their safety equipment.
Andrea disagreed; her favorite event was rappelling 47 feet down Warrior Tower.
“I loved it. I was scared at first, but after my first jump, it was glorious,” Andrea said.
Ironic, because Diana instantly spoke up, saying Warrior Tower was her least favorite training event.
“The tower was the hardest thing for me. I hate heights. I was shaking, but I did it,” Diana said.
For Andrea, a 5-mile foot march following a lengthy field exercise was the hardest part for her so far.
“The ruck challenged me. My feet are killing me,” Andrea said. “But I finished.”
According to Andrea, even though they are in the same platoon, they often spend much of their days training apart.
“We don’t spend all our time together. We are separated into different groups for most of the activities,” Andrea said. “She is my bunkmate, so at night we talk about how our days went.”
Diana said the best thing about having her twin by her side was avoiding being homesick.
“Everybody else complained about being homesick the first few days. But I never felt homesick since she was always with me. I feel fortunate for that,” Diana said.
The Acevedo sisters are set to graduate BCT in September. Then, the duo will head to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, for 16 weeks of advanced individual training — taking them one step closer to their goals of being medical professionals.