The Medlen family has had at least one family member from each
generation serve in the military dating back as far as the
Revolutionary War. Currently there are two actively serving their
nation, and they just so happen to be identical twins as well as
Air Force 1st Lt. Justin Medlen, 93rd Air
Refueling Squadron pilot stationed at Fairchild AFB, and Navy Lt.
j.g. Jeremy Medlen, a Mayport MH60-R pilot, also both served as
enlisted members before becoming commissioned officers and pilots.
Jeremy Medlen (top) next to a MH-60R helicopter and Justin Medlen
(bottom) next to a KC-135 Stratotanker. Jeremy and Justin are twins
who are both military pilots, one for the Navy and the other for the
Air Force. (Image by U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Taylor Bourgeous)
Though a quick glance from the outside may reveal a lot of
similarities, a closer look reveals the journeys of the brothers
from Lowell, Oregon were quite different.
"I didn't enlist
until after I got my bachelor's degree from University of Oregon,"
said Justin. "I was greatly influenced by what the military offered
my brother in terms of taking him from having nothing into a pretty
Justin looked into what it would take to
become a military pilot and saw the career that he could have. So he
enlisted with the Oregon Air National Guard as part of a five-year
"Enlisting in the ANG was tactical, because at that
time it gave me a $50,000 cash bonus to pursue pilot training on the
civilian side," said Justin.
Justin shared some other
necessary milestones and challenges to overcome as he pushed toward
his goal of becoming a pilot.
"There are benchmarks in the
pilot application. A few of the big ones were prior enlistment with
accolades from tech school, then letters of recommendation from
ranking pilots," explained Justin. "I wanted to build that up, so I
actually sat down before I even enlisted and drew up a five-year
plan of how I could put some of them into play while in the ANG."
While in the OR ANG Justin served as an Aircraft Armament
Systems Journeyman on the F-15C Eagle. He routinely loaded missiles
onto the fighter aircraft, sometimes by hand, and worked on other
weapons as well.
Justin ended up serving in the Air Force a
little more than five years before becoming an officer. After
commissioning and completing initial pilot training, Justin became a
KC-135 Stratotanker pilot.
Jeremy was fascinated with
submarines when he was young and was able to get a job as Sonar
Technician when he enlisted just after high school he worked. He
spent the first five years of his service on submarines and then
switched to the surface Navy where he worked on special mission
ships, and then he eventually become a recruiter in the Portland
area. During this time, Jeremy tirelessly pursued obtaining his own
college degree, with continuous encouragement from his brother.
"My brother enlisted traditionally, as a 19-year-old, in the
Navy the year after we graduated high school," said Justin. "He was
a submarine sonar operator who ran sonar operations on a
Jeremy served about 10 years in the
Navy before commissioning. Jeremy became a helicopter pilot and now
hunts for submarines from the air rather than manning them below the
surface of the ocean.
"My decision to commission was based on
the fact that I was somewhat powerless to make real change," said
Jeremy. "I saw too many sailors becoming disgruntled because of poor
policies and leadership. I wanted to change these policies. I could
only do that by becoming an officer."
Jeremy is the only
person in the history of the Navy he is aware of to have ever earned
a specific combination of insignia - enlisted Submarine Warfare,
enlisted Surface Warfare, Integrated Undersea Surveillance System,
Strategic Nuclear Deterrence Warfare and Recruiting Excellence.
Jeremy said those are all secondary to his aviator wings of gold.
"It's awesome to be able to continue our family legacy of
military service," said Justin. "My brother and I, and our entire
family, take pride in that. We are thrilled to serve and honor the
family legacy." "It has been really difficult at times and very good
at times. We both have had our own set of struggles."
Justin and Jeremy say they believe their bond has strengthened, not
just because they're twins, but also by both being military pilots.
Justin Medlen (Air force) and Jeremy Medlen (Navy), stand proudly
next to a pilot statue on February 13, 2016 in Pensacola, Fla.
Jeremy had just graduated from pilot training and received his pilot
wings the day before. Jeremy's twin brother Justin is also a pilot
for the Navy. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Taylor Bourgeous)
"I couldn't be prouder of my brother and his accomplishments,"
said Jeremy. "It's nice that we speak the same language of aviation
and that our jobs are similar."
"It's a deeper brotherhood,
it's awesome to look over and be so proud of your brother for what
he's doing," said Justin. "It's also amazing to be able to say that
not only I am a military pilot, but my twin brother is also a
By U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Taylor Bourgeous
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