Ona, W.V. -- As identical twins, there are not many things John and Mike Lange do apart. Whether it is working out or playing sports, you usually do not see one without the other. Now, the brothers will share one more major life event: attending Marine Corps recruit training.
The Lange brothers are not hard to miss. Aside from the fact that they share identical features, they are quite tall, standing 6 feet 4 inches and have muscular builds from time spent playing high school football. They are country boys through and through, both having a soft country drawl common to the area and are frequent with the ‘Yes sirs and No sirs’.
Their family roots are in Appalachia and they are the kind of guys who like hunting and doing other activities that involve getting dirty. They can usually be seen riding in a pickup truck wearing jeans and boots.
The Lange boys are from Proctorville, Ohio, a village of about 537 that mostly serves as place for those who want to work in nearby Huntington, W.Va., but live a rural lifestyle. Although identical twins over six feet tall are not common in Proctorville or anywhere else for that matter, many aspects of their childhood are common for Marine Corps enlistees from rural areas.
They grew up playing sports in high school, generally on the same team and were motivated by the Marine Corps commercials they saw on TV. The kind that usually showed someone scaling a cliff or fighting a dragon to earn the title of United States Marine.
Despite having a father who had served in the Navy, the brothers found little support for joining the military at home.
“I always had a passion for the military,” said Mike. “The Marines where always in the back of my head. However, I did not expect I would be allowed to join. I knew my parents would just hate the idea.”
At the insistence of their parents, the twins ended up going to college and attended the southern branch of Ohio University in Proctorville. While attending college, Mike visited a college career fair and spoke to a Marine recruiter, which again brought up thoughts of joining the military. The brothers later linked up with a friend who had recently graduated Marine Corps recruit training and ended up making a trip to the Recruiting Sub-Station in Huntington.
“We tried college and I was not happy and he was not either,” said John. “We went down to the Sub-Station with a friend and two weeks later I went to MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station).”
After a few months the twins were both sworn into the Marine Corps Delayed Entry Program and were now ‘Poolees’, or individuals who have enlisted and are awaiting to attend basic training. While in the DEP program, the twins quickly became the informal leaders of the pool, often seen finishing runs then turning around and running with slower poolees to motivate them.
“They are PT studs and are not afraid to stand up and take charge,” said Staff Sgt. Scott Eutzy, the staff non-commissioned officer in charge of RSS Huntington and a Huntingdon, Pa. native. “They played a major role in helping us win our statewide pool meet and a lot of the other poolees look up to them. They will definitely be missed.”
The twins were also as competitive with each other as ever. During a recent statewide pool function, John was recognized as the male poolee with the highest initial strength test score, narrowly beating his brother by just one pull-up.
“It’s tough. Got to always prove who is the top twin…who is the alpha male,” said John, in regards to competing with his brother. “We would always get close IST scores.”
Although some consider completing Marine Corps Basic Training to be the toughest challenge of their life, what comes after recruit training may be even tougher for the twins. Although they will be attending boot camp together in late February, they will have different careers. John enlisted as an infantryman and Mike enlisted as a military policeman, which will put the brothers on separate paths for the first time in their lives.
“There is not much I have done without him,” said Mike, speaking about growing up with his brother. “This is going to be a big step for us but I believe I was made to be a Marine and I want to rise above the challenge.