Twins Gain Independence While Attending Academy

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U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Cadet 3rd Class Kerri Schmidt will never forget the moment she reunited with her twin sister after the two were separated for two weeks during Basic Cadet Training.

During intense training and drills here, for the first time in their lives, the girls couldn't see or communicate with each other. As soon as Kerri spotted her sister, Kiersten, at the Cadet Chapel one day, her spirit brightened and tears filled her eyes as she walked toward her best friend since birth.

"That was the longest time we had been apart emotionally," Kerri said. "We have that kind of bond where you live together, you know each other's habits, you know exactly how to make each other angry and exactly how to make each other happy."

Born only two minutes apart, the blonde haired, blue-eyed 20-year olds from Verona, Ky., received appointments to the Academy last year and were assigned to the same cadet squadrons as their father, Kevin Schmidt, and his twin brother, Kerry Schmidt, who attended the Academy more than 30 years ago.

"I was put in Cadet Squadron 28, the squadron my dad was a part of and Kerri was put in Cadet Squadron 3, the squadron his twin brother, who she was named after, was a part of," Kiersten said.

Together as often as they're allowed, the Schmidt sisters are both involved in the Academy's show choir and a bible study. Although it gives them confidence knowing they have each other to talk to, they said the forced time apart has enabled them to grow as individuals.

"A big misconception with twins is that we're the same person," Kiersten said. "We come from the same place but we can be separated. We have differences such as different interests, majors and friends."

One can easily make a distinction just from their height--Kiersten surpasses Kerri by five inches.

"People still get confused," Kiersten said. "Last year my Spanish partner saw Kerri at the gym and thinking it was me, started to talk to her."

Kerri, a legal studies major, and Kiersten, a materials chemistry major, said they've also learned to give each other space when it comes to boyfriends.

"At first with the whole dating thing, I was like, 'Don't steal my sister,' because I would get jealous," Kerri said. "Her boyfriend is actually in my squadron and is really nice. I approve of him, for now."

Being at the Academy has also sparked healthy competition between the girls.

"Knowing that we're both here, even with different majors, I'll think, 'She's going to get this grade on this test and so I've got to do better than that,'" Kerri said. "We're proud of each other but can definitely get competitive."

By growing up as a twin, Kiersten said it has made her a better roommate.

"It's easier for me to be a roommate because I know how to share my life, whereas for some people, they may have siblings but don't know how to live together," Kiersten said.

The girls are both interested in flying planes in the future. They said no matter where their careers or the Air Force takes them, they will always remain close and understand each other like no one else ever will.

"All I have to do is shoot her a look and she knows exactly what I'm thinking," Kiersten said. "It's a unique relationship because you're the same age and going through the same life stage. It's pretty special."

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