Twins Serve Together in Afghanistan

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CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – Except for a few days of leave, twin brothers Marine Corps Sgt. David Haines and Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Haines hadn’t been together for five years until they were reunited here, where both are deployed.

They don’t necessarily compete against one another, but the 24-year-old siblings often wrangle back and forth as if they are teenagers fighting for a video game controller.

Whether they are trash-talking about the other’s military branch or arguing about dates of events, the brothers playfully interact like adolescents still living together on a daily basis.

Growing up, the Haines brothers had different interests. Michael ran track, worked and even spent the better part of a year living in Italy with his sister. David spent his free time practicing the piano, playing in a jazz band and taking drama classes at the local college. However, the brothers said, they have remained close.

The two graduated from Moscow Senior High School in Moscow, Idaho, in June 2006. After spending a few months out of school, David said, he knew he wanted something different.

“I needed a change of pace,” he explained. “My brother-in-law was trying to talk me into the Navy, but the Navy didn’t really interest me. The Marine recruiter was right next door and totally sold me.”

During January 2007, David left Idaho to become a Marine, and his twin brother was thinking about doing the same.

“I always wanted to join,” Michael said. “I had gotten married right out of high school. When we found out that my wife at the time was pregnant, I knew I needed to take care of my family, and I could finally do what I wanted.”

For the past five years, Michael and David have shared two duty stations. However, they have not been stationed together at the same time. The brothers have both been assigned to units in Okinawa, Japan, and are both now assigned to units at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

David, the Afghan National Army development chief for 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, deployed in February. His brother, a corpsman, checked into 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, in April and deployed to Afghanistan this summer. It’s the first time the brothers have deployed to a combat zone, and the first time they have been together in five years, except for a few days during Christmas leave.

“It’s pretty interesting,” Michael said. “We always kept missing one another at our previous duty stations. It’s pretty cool that we are here together, though.”

Although being deployed in the same area is nice for the brothers, David said, he has found himself on the edge of his seat the past few months.

“I was really looking forward to [Michael] getting here, but to be honest, it has made me a bit anxious,” he said. “Being a part of the [Marine expeditionary force] and knowing about the kinetics in the area and seeing casualty reports, I was always making sure it wasn’t my brother or his unit that was getting hit. It makes it a bit different tracking those things, especially having your twin brother out there.”

Michael is wrapping up his 90-day deployment and will be headed back to Camp Pendleton in the coming days. Until he redeploys, the brothers said, they look forward to spending some time together.

The brothers said they enjoy being a part of the armed forces. Both are thinking about seeking commissions. With 15 or more years remaining in the military, they added, it may mean many long waits before uniting again. But they said they’ll take whatever opportunity they have to talk to one another, even if it is on the other side of the world in a combat zone.

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