CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa - As the III Marine Expeditionary Force Band begins its performance, the horn section can be heard playing their melodies. When an audience member looks to match the sound of the trombones to the musicians, they may think they are seeing double.
Sergeants John and Wayne Geary are identical-twin trombone players, who along with their shared passion for music, also share a sense of duty to the Marine Corps and their nation.
“We have experienced things together throughout our whole lives, and being able to serve alongside each other has brought us together even more,” said John. “When we were in college or high school, we were always in different musical ensembles, so we never really worked together before the Marine Corps. For once, we are finally learning together and developing our careers together.”
The Geary brothers have maintained a strong friendship their entire lives. Their father was in the U.S. Army, and they moved every three years, but they call Manassas, Va., home. As they moved through different schools, they discovered their passion for music and developed a desire to join the military.
“When we got to high school, our band teacher was really passionate about music and he really conveyed that to us,” said John. “That was when we knew what we wanted to do. We wanted to be music teachers.”
The twins went on to earn music education degrees at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., and used their knowledge as a basis for their Marine Corps careers.
“We both want to be music teachers, but we know we are not ready right now to begin teaching,” said Wayne. “We want to play more first, and by playing in the III MEF Band, when we actually get to teach, we will be able to tell our students what it is like to be a musician in the real world.”
The twins’ drive and motivation to be better at music is seen in every aspect of their lives, according to Sgt. Joshua T. Crissey, a euphonium musician with the band.
“They are both very ambitious,” said Crissey. “They take plenty of time out of their personal schedules to practice music, and it is clear they are experienced. They always work on their own time to help their fellow Marines.”
John and Wayne were promoted at the same time and continue to compete against each other to achieve new skills.
“We always try to find a new way to be better than one another,” said Wayne. “Whether we are doing Marine Corps Institute classes or when we became martial arts instructors, or just learning something new for music, we compete a lot with each other.”
Many join the Marine Corps for the sense of brotherhood, but the Geary brothers are able to enhance an already existing relationship through their passion for music and teaching.
“When you teach music to someone, you need to have the patience and the ability to help them look toward end goals,” said Wayne. “I feel this translates directly to the Marine Corps because we always get put in these situations where we need to overcome adversity and reach goals here, too.”
As the brothers move throughout their military careers, they will continue to succeed and inspire future musicians and fellow Marines, according to Crissey.
“I had to play the trombone for a concert once before, and they both took the time to help me become a better trombone player,” said Crissey. “They both lead by example. They are good at everything they do and the junior Marines have an advantage because of that. Sergeants Geary learn, then teach, and they always find some way new to make themselves and others better.”