Identical Twins Share Journey To Become Airmen
by Randy Martin, HQ Air Force Recruiting
Of the more than 26,600 regular Air Force
enlistments in fiscal 2021, statistically speaking, two were
extraordinary. Identical twin brothers were recruited by their
brother and they attended Basic Military Training together at the
same time, in the same unit with both excelling as individuals while
on their journey to become Airmen.
November 24, 2021 - Then U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Zachary Smith (center), an enlisted accessions recruiter with the 313th Recruiting Squadron in New Hartford, New York
stands with his identical twin brothers (Cameron and Calvin) and their parents, Dan Smith (left) and Andrea Pelascini, in Airman’s Arena at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas a few minutes after the twins graduated from Basic Military Training becoming Airmen. Zachary recruited the twins while they were still living in La Grande, Oregon and after they showed interest in serving in the Air Force. (Photo by Randy Martin, HQ Air Force Recruiting
“According to public sources, the instances
of identical twins in the U.S. is four in every thousand,” said Eric
Carlson, a marketing research analyst with Air Force Recruiting
Service at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. In an era of
reduced propensity to join the military, the uncommonness of Calvin
and Cameron Smith’s journey begins there.
Before joining the
Air Force, in their hometown of La Grande, Oregon, with a population
of about 14,000 people, the twins were active in clubs and sports
during their high school career. Family members said that they
enjoyed time outdoors and helping their great uncle, an Air Force
retiree and Vietnam War veteran who lives in Monroe, Washington, as
well as their father with projects such as building construction and
After graduation the two opted to stay close to home. “They
both lived on campus while studying to become history teachers at
Eastern Oregon University, here,” said Andrea Pelascini, the twins’
mother and a La Grande businesswoman. She said that the transition
to college life was working but when COVID-19 hampered the social
aspect of campus life, both started looking at other career options.
“Cameron reached out to the National Guard recruiter and
researched a few other branches but in the end he decided the Air
Force was the best fit,” Pelascini said.
So Cameron turned to
another sibling to get advice on joining the Air Force. The twin’s
older brother had recently become an Air Force recruiter. The only
trouble was that he was on the other side of the continent.
“Cameron started asking me some questions about my time in the Air
Force,” said Tech. Sgt. Zachary Smith an enlisted accessions
recruiter with the 313th Recruiting Squadron in New Hartford, New
York. Zachary is eight years older than the twins but he said their
great uncle had inspired him to join the Air Force and serve in its
security forces. “I wanted to be a cop and the Air Force gave me
security forces which I love to this day.”
Cameron decided to
visit Zachary in New York. Calvin wasn’t as interested but he
finally decided to tag along on the 2,700-mile trip from Oregon.
Once they reached New York their big brother and Air Force recruiter
elected to be patient with his Air Force-applicant siblings. “I
didn't want to pressure my brothers to join, especially if they
didn’t like it in the end,” Zachary said.
considered what their brother told them and both warmed to the idea
of joining the Air Force.
“Calvin decided to see how well he
would test and he got a high score. When Calvin got serious about
wanting to join, the recruiter side of Zach informed him of all the
opportunities,” Pelascini said.
They returned to Oregon and
Zachery got the call all recruiters enjoy taking.
asked me if I could recruit him. I said that I could but he would
have to go through the Military Entrance Processing Station in New
York,” Zachary said.
After Cameron made his second roundtrip
to New York and completed the enlistment process, his twin brother
in Oregon decided he would do the same thing. By August 2021, the
twins were back in La Grande and ready for the next leg of their
“They honestly were the two easiest recruits I ever
had,” Zachary said. “They both understood what I was telling them
and both were perfect at the MEPS. I did meetings via FaceTime up
until they shipped to Basic Military Training. They are both very
physically fit and very mature for their age.”
The twins left
La Grande for BMT at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, on Oct.
10, 2021. “My leadership set them with the same ship date since they
are twins and my brothers,” Zachary said.
It was good news for
“Zach made the recruiting process very smooth,”
Cameron said. “It was a real blessing.”
At Lackland the
twins were assigned to Flight 010 in the 322nd Training Squadron.
Their military training instructors made them be each other’s
Wingman, a pairing common in the Air Force that is intended to
provide Airmen with a support network. According to their family,
it’s a relationship the two have shared since birth.
dad would say that Calvin has always been the front guy while
Cameron would be in the back observing,” Pelascini said. “Calvin is
the talker while Cameron is the listener. They always have each
other’s back. Joining the Air Force and attending BMT together seems
like it was meant to be. They always push and challenge each other
in a playful but competitive way so I think this experience was
positive for them.”
Despite their readymade support network,
BMT proved to be a challenge.
“They called one of us every
Saturday,” Zachary said. “They were definitely shocked after the
first week. I think they were expecting something else and did not
realize how challenging BMT could actually be. As the weeks
progressed their confidence had grown and they became more
Letters from the twins kept family across the
“Cameron was the first to write,” Pelascini
said. “He wrote to his dad. It was an emotional letter talking about
how thankful he was that his dad had taught him life lessons and was
not only a father but his friend. He really was embracing the
importance of family and the meaning of time. The next few letters
were to me and they were information about his daily routines and
spoke of the individuals he had met and his positive experiences
with his instructors. Calvin wrote to me knowing I would share his
letters with everyone. As a mom I ask a million questions so Calvin
made sure to list all the details and write in-depth about the BMT
daily experiences. He also spoke of the friendships he was making
and how Cameron was.”
The twins graduated from BMT Nov. 24,
2021, at JBSA-Lackland. Their mother, father and recruiter had a
family reunion with their new Airmen in Airman’s Arena which was
filled by hundreds of others who were also seeing their loved ones
for the first time in many weeks. There were hugs and tears aplenty
on the eve of Thanksgiving in San Antonio.
Cameron had earned
acclaim in training for his physical fitness test score and he was
preparing to follow in Zachary’s footsteps to security forces
training. Calvin, with new ribbons representing awards and airman
rank on his uniform, had graduated in the top 10% of their squadron
academically and he was preparing to enter the geospatial
intelligence career field.
“It was great to go through BMT
together because the beginning is stressful and at night we could
talk to each other and provide each other support,” Calvin said.
They didn’t know if they would eventually be stationed together
but Calvin said that he expected their requests for future
assignments to look alike.
Their recruiter hugged his
“I feel like a little dad, helping them become the
individuals that they are,” Zachary said.
and departure to homes in Oregon and New York, or in the twin’s
case, technical schools in Texas, family members said that they
hoped to have another reunion around Christmastime in La Grande.
“We are so proud of Calvin and Cameron,” Pelascini said. “They
are both amazing individuals destined to do great things!”
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