Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego -- Throughout recruit training, Marines of Platoon 2175, Company H, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, forged a bond that made them brothers throughout their Marine Corps career.
Nothing is more unique than the brotherhood of identical twins taking the challenge together to carry on a family legacy of serving in the Marine Corps.
Pfc. Brandon J. Nordlund and Lance Cpl. Tyler E. Nordlund, were born identical twins only four minutes apart, Tyler being the older. To them, while growing up in Sioux Falls, S.D., it was just another person to hang out and have fun with.
“It was kind of unique but at the same time didn’t feel odd or different from any kid growing up,” said Brandon. “It was like a best friend that was always there.”
“It was different than just with a regular brother because we had a younger brother,” said Tyler. “It was easier to connect with him. We had a lot of the same friends and interests like music and sports. It just seemed real easy and natural.”
Brandon and Tyler’s father was a Marine and had served time as a drill instructor.
“He was actually more laid back than one might expect from someone who was a drill instructor for a while,” said Brandon. “He told us when he got out of the Marines and started a family, after 14 years of service, that he didn’t want to put the Marine Corps lifestyle into the family. He drifted away some to raise his kids as a normal family.”
After years of constantly being around one another and partaking in the same interests, the brothers started to tire of each other’s company.
“When we were younger there was a little bit of tension where we fought quite a bit; probably around middle school,” said Brandon. “We’d always try to find different friends or if we did have the same friends we’d try and hang out with them separately; any little thing to get away just a little bit.”
The fighting and separation between the two was short lived. It would take an unexpected family hardship for them to realize how much they truly needed each other.
“After middle school my dad and mom divorced,” said Brandon. “It was what started to bring my brother and I back together.”
Through family hardship Brandon and Tyler began to put aside their differences and support each other. With their two older sisters having moved out of the house they had no one left to look over them except for themselves.
“We were living with my dad but he was gone a lot due to work,” said Brandon. “My brother and I kind of raised each other during that time.”
“We were always around each other helping each other out, doing a lot of growing up with each other,” said Tyler. “I think from that point on it bonded us together, stronger than most brothers. We knew there was no point in fighting it so we accepted the fact that we were meant to be close.”
Reunited, Brandon and Tyler fell back into their old routine of pursuing the same friends and interests, including wrestling and joining in their school’s Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps.
“Ever since we were 10 or 11 we’ve always wanted to be in the Marine Corps,” said Brandon. “Our dad and his dad were Marines and wanted to continue the family legacy.”
Though it was a family legacy, Brandon and Tyler chose the next chapter in their life. Their father allowed them to make their own minds up on how they wanted to pursue their future.
“It was more our choice,” said Brandon. “He always said ‘do what you want to do.’ He never forced it on us, to join the Corps or go to college; he just wanted us to do what we wanted to do. But what we wanted to do was follow in his footsteps so that’s what motivated us.”
Though they had their minds set on the Marine Corps, they were more than willing to take advantage of any opportunity that might have presented itself.
“If I would have gotten a scholarship in wrestling I would have pursued that route and gone to college but then later the Marine Corps,” said Tyler. “Ultimately it was always going to end up in the Marine Corps.”
Their father’s last occupation while in the Corps was an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Marine, which inspired them to try and follow the same direction.
“We both initially tried to get combat engineer but a month before we were going to ship it changed to avionics electrician technician,” said Brandon.
“We just wanted to be in the Marine Corps,” said Tyler. There’s always the chance to lateral move later on in our careers if we didn’t like the original job we received.”
Eager to graduate and begin their journey within the Marine Corps, the 18-year-old twin brothers excelled in their academics while in high school. It allowed them to graduate a semester early.
“We were ready to get out of our town and start a new life,” said Brandon. “It’s good to get away from where you’ve lived for so long. It was time to get a fresh start.”
At recruit training Brandon and Tyler exceled over their peers from the beginning. It became apparent to their drill instructors they were capable of handling more responsibilities.
“Their performance since they’ve been here has been good,” said Sgt. Bo H. Kim, drill instructor. “From the senior drill instructor all the way down we say the same thing, their performance overall physically, mentally or in drill stood out from the rest. They’re quick learners. Because of that they were both hired as squad leaders when they got here in first phase.”
During the second phase of training Tyler was hired as the platoon guide.
Together, Brandon and Tyler led their platoon through the Crucible and up the Reaper to earn the title Marine. Their ability to push one another and help each other carried over to their peers to forge a brotherhood few will understand.
“The twins came here mentally and physically prepared due to their JROTC training in high school,” said Kim, a Virginia Beach, Va., native. “They understood the concept of recruit training. They both increased their abilities together, not just one, because one wouldn’t let the other completely fall down. If one was slacking they would pick each other up.”
Brandon and Tyler took the challenge together few would choose to take on. They will continue their training at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton to endure Marine Combat Training before moving on to their Military Occupational Specialty school. However, their greatest challenge lies after, where the possibility of being separated and sent to different units will likely occur.
“Most likely one can say they are going to be separated,” said Kim. “It’ll be good because it’ll give them the abilities to do something on their own and not having to depend on someone else to help. It will then be their opportunity to develop their own lifestyle and leadership skills.