War on Terrorism

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Face of Defense: Twins Serve Together in Iraq

By Army Spc. Roland Hale
1st Infantry Division

CAMP TAJI, Iraq, Nov. 9, 2010 – Twin sisters serving in the Army have stayed together through months of rigorous training and now are deployed to Iraq with an aviation brigade from Fort Riley, Kan.

Spc. Paulette Dabney and Spc. Georgette Steele, natives of Chesapeake, Va., joined the Army in 2008 almost on a whim, they said. Unlike most of their decisions, which usually are made in twin-like harmony, it was one sister who convinced the other to enlist.

"One day my sister just asked me if I wanted to join the Army," Dabney said. "It seemed a little crazy, but I guess I'm the crazy one, because I went with it."

The twins enlisted as aviation operations specialists and attended three months of basic combat training. After learning the basics of marksmanship, survival and other combat skills, they were assigned to Fort Rucker, Ala., where they focused on technical training. Their journey continued together when they both received orders for Fort Riley and were assigned to the 1st Infantry Division’s Enhanced Combat Aviation Brigade.

The twins stayed in Kansas for about a year, during which time Steele married a fellow soldier and took his last name. But even after nine months in Iraq, they still are known as the "Dabney twins."

"We get it all the time," Steele said. "The fact that we're twins doesn't come up in conversation when we're talking to someone new, and when they see us together they get pretty surprised."

Since basic training, Steele said, the twins have managed a little mischief. Most recently, Dabney took Steele's place in a unit formation to see if anyone would notice the difference.

"Her company was having a formation, so we swapped out right before, name tags and all," Dabney said. "It took them a few minutes, but after the formation they realized it wasn't her."

The twins have adapted to the Army life well, they said. Both were promoted to specialist last month and are preparing for promotion to sergeant soon.

Dabney and Steele are in separate divisions of the unit. Dabney works in the brigade's tactical operations center, and her sister works in the same type of office in one of the brigade's subordinate units.

As aviation operations specialists, they monitor flights, track the unit's movements around the battlefield and help commanders communicate among units. They work shifts of no less than 10 hours a day, sometimes working for months without days off.

"It's been crazy for both of us, especially out here," Dabney said. "There's work to do every day, no matter what's going on. One of the biggest positives is that my sister is out here with me. Sometimes we can work together, and she knows exactly what I do every day."

"I'm glad I took her with me when I joined," Steele said. "Without her, this wouldn't be the same. It's nice to have your sister with you in Iraq."

"You make friends pretty easily in the Army, but it's another thing to have your sister with you," Dabney added.

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