CAMP HIT, Iraq -- Being born a twin is an uncommon occurrence, but an even more unusual occasion is when two identical twins get a chance to hold a reunion on the sandy terrain of Iraq.
Corporal Jason P. Abell and 1st Lt. Bryan J. Abell, of Demasses, Md., crossed paths as one returns to Iraq and the other leaves the hot desert.
First Lieutenant Abell, the Scout Sniper Platoon commander for 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, and the rest of his unit arrived in Iraq recently to replace his brother’s active-reserve unit, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, who operated in the area for the last seven months.
“Once I found out we were replacing 3/25, I e-mailed him and let him know I would be coming out there,” said 1st Lt. Abell. “It was actually pretty nice to hear because we haven’t seen each other since September 2004.”
Just as the identical twins have been confusing people for years, once in the same area as each other, Marines with both units became confused. Many of them, not knowing the Abells were twins, mistook one for the other.
“I’ve been called sir by people walking by me about 20 times since he got here,” commented Cpl. Abell.
“And I’ve had Marines with 3/25 come up to me confused at how I became a lieutenant thinking I was him,” added 1st Lt. Abell pointing at his brother.
Before their Iraqi reunion, both brothers joined the Marine Corps a few years after graduating from Demasses High School in 1998. Corporal Abell enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve in 2000 while attending Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio while his twin attended the U.S. Naval Academy.
Both were very interested in the Marine Corps in high school but also knew college had to be a part of their lives. Therefore, Cpl. Abell joined the reserves for a change of pace while going to college and 1st Lt. Abell joined the academy to get the best of both worlds, college and the Marine Corps.
“I finished my degree at the Naval Academy and got commissioned in the Marines right after graduating,” said 1st Lt. Abell. “It was a great way for me to get my degree and join the military at the same time.”
As Cpl. Abell leaves Iraq to go back to Columbus, Ohio to continue his work as a graphic designer and freelance illustrator, 1st Lt. Abell looks forward to the next seven months where he will support Operation Iraq Freedom for the second time since joining his unit a year ago. Knowing what to expect the second time around has made the deployment easier for 1st Lt. Abell, but he never expected to see his brother here.
“It is definitely something you don’t expect to see, a family member in a place like Iraq,” said 1st Lt. Abell. “It just goes to show how it sure is a small Corps.”