“Recruit Wombles times two!” yelled the drill instructor as two heads popped up simultaneously. Acknowledging the call, they both rose to their feet and ran to the front of the barracks.
Cody L. and Kyle D. Wombles grew up in the small town of Pleasant Hill, Ill. Living in a town with less than 1,000 people, the two Company F recruits welcomed the idea of being identical twins in a new, ethnically diverse environment with new experiences.
Said Cody: “The only way our drill instructors can tell us apart is by the … ”
” … mole on my face,” said Kyle, finishing his twin’s thought.
They take turns finishing each other’s sentences, and they do it frequently.
“Other recruits in the platoon always tells us how lucky we are and how they wish that their brothers could be here training with them,” said Kyle.
Taking on the challenge of joining the military was an ambition the twins shared as young boys.
“We decided on the Marines because it looked like it was the hardest,” said Kyle as Cody nodded his head in agreement. “Our mother didn’t want us to go, but we told her when we turned 18 we were going to join.”
“They probably put it mildly,” said their mom Cheryl Wombles about their choice.
After the several discussions and heated words that the family shared, she ultimately found herself supporting their decision to join.
“Kyle didn’t voice his opinion to want to leave Illinois as much as Cody, but they both want to see different things,” said Cheryl.
A year of persuasion helped the twins, who were born on Dec. 17, 1986, to get their mother to sign the parental consent form to allow them to join at 17.
“She signed our papers and we asked our recruiter to get us to go as soon as possible,” said Cody.
“But he didn’t have any open spots until after the summer,” said Kyle.
Putting themselves on the waiting list for open spots, the two did encounter an opening, but for only one of them.
“At first I was ready to take it,” said Cody. “Then I realized it wasn’t enough time to say goodbye to everyone, so I passed it up.”
In early August, the twins finally made it into boot camp as infantrymen.
Having each other to rely on during training has helped them to excel and make it through. In a letter that Cheryl received from Kyle, she believed that he was becoming homesick and needed reassurance
“I told him that he needed to buck up and take it like a man,” said Cheryl. “I also told his brother to look out for him, which makes me look hard, but I knew they would be fine.”
The twins followed their mother’s guidance and did well throughout training.
“They are basically joined at the hip,” said Sgt. Jefferson A. Rivas, Platoon 2126, Co. F drill instructor. “Whenever one reports for something, instead of picking them apart they both come up.”
Showing their drill instructors that they have no problems getting through training, both recruits averaged about the same score on almost every competitive event.
“Every time we went through the obstacle course, the drill instructors would make us race one another,” said Kyle.
“Most of the time we were pretty even, but occasionally I beat my brother,” finished Cody.
The twins’ kindred mind set made boot camp easier to bear.
“When the drill instructors would count down to get us to do things quickly, other recruits were digging through their stuff to look for what was asked,” said Kyle. “My brother and I would be much further ahead of everyone else because without a word my brother would have what I needed or I would have what he needed.”
Doing everything alike in a place where conformity is comfortable only helped the twins excel with no problems except for small heckling.
“During chow, the drill instructors would ask the second one of us why we were in line trying to get seconds,” said Kyle.
Having completed the first part of their journey in the military, the Wombles twins look forward to the School of Infantry and a chance to see more of the world.