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Wingmen for life: Twins serve together in Afghanistan

Master Sgt. Jeremiah Graves, left, and Master Sgt. Joshua Graves stand together in front of a work site July 1, 2014, on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Joshua and Jeremiah, identical twins, are deployed from the Air National Guard’s 148th Fighter Wing, Duluth, Minn. Jeremiah is a 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron heavy equipment supervisor and Joshua is a 455th ECES project manager. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Bobby Cummings)

Master Sgt. Jeremiah Graves, left, and Master Sgt. Joshua Graves stand together in front of a work site July 1, 2014, on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Joshua and Jeremiah, identical twins, are deployed from the Air National Guard’s 148th Fighter Wing, Duluth, Minn. Jeremiah is a 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron heavy equipment supervisor and Joshua is a 455th ECES project manager. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Bobby Cummings)

Master Sgt. Jeremiah Graves, left, and Master Sgt. Joshua Graves conduct measurements for a project July 1, 2014, on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Joshua and Jeremiah, identical twins, are deployed from the Air National Guard’s 148th Fighter Wing, Duluth, Minn. Jeremiah is a 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron heavy equipment supervisor and Joshua is a 455th ECES project manager. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Bobby Cummings)

Master Sgt. Jeremiah Graves, left, and Master Sgt. Joshua Graves conduct measurements for a project July 1, 2014, on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Joshua and Jeremiah, identical twins, are deployed from the Air National Guard’s 148th Fighter Wing, Duluth, Minn. Jeremiah is a 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron heavy equipment supervisor and Joshua is a 455th ECES project manager. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Bobby Cummings)

Master Sgt. Joshua Graves levels concrete July 9, 2014, on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Graves is a 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron project manager and deployed from the Air National Guard’s 148th Fighter Wing, Duluth, Minn. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Bobby Cummings)

Master Sgt. Joshua Graves levels concrete July 9, 2014, on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Graves is a 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron project manager and deployed from the Air National Guard’s 148th Fighter Wing, Duluth, Minn. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Bobby Cummings)

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- Brothers born seven minutes apart, have ventured through life side by side and now their journey has brought them to Afghanistan.

Master Sgts. Jeremiah and Joshua Graves are identical twin brothers deployed here with the 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron, and are from the Air National Guard's 148th Fighter Wing, Duluth, Minnesota. The brothers have relied on each other throughout their lives and now are doing the same in a combat zone.

"We have accomplished many things together," said Joshua, a project manager for the 455th ECES. "Our lives have nearly mirrored one another's. It has been like having your best friend there for almost everything."

The Minnesota Center for Twin and Family Research conducted a study on the Graves brothers and concluded they are the most genetically similar twins they've studied. The choices they have made reinforce their similarities.

They enlisted in the Air Force and attended basic military training together May 1992, at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. Their military training instructor often got them confused because they look so much alike.

According to Jeremiah, the eldest of the two and a heavy equipment supervisor for the 455th ECES, the Air Force has enabled them to experience many adventures together. They have traveled to countries such as Germany, Panama, South Korea, and Afghanistan twice, the first time in 2010.

"We have been roommates on each of our deployments here," Jeremiah said. "We both are grateful for that. It is easy to talk to him because he can relate so easily to what I am going through. We also push one another to be the best we can be, but that is nothing new. We have always been competitive with one another."

In 2007 Joshua volunteered for a deployment to Baghdad, Iraq, with another unit. Jeremiah had to remain home. When reflecting on his experience while deployed without Jeremiah, Joshua considers himself fortunate to now have his brother with him.

"Being deployed with my brother is completely different," Joshua said. "It's somebody there that I truly know, trust and have always depended upon. It's never easy being deployed but with my brother alongside me it is easier."

According to Brenda Graves, Jeremiah's wife, Joshua and Jeremiah have always been close, choosing similar career paths in their civilian and military careers. Outside of the Air Force, the brothers lead similar lifestyles. Jeremiah is a sergeant of the drug and violent crime task force for the Duluth Police Department and Joshua serves as a sheriff for the local county.

In their spare time the duo camp, hunt and fish together. Both of them are fathers, coach youth hockey and live only two miles apart.

"I'm glad Jeremiah has someone there with him that he has such a strong bond with," Brenda said. "It gives our entire family comfort knowing they have one another and we are very proud of them."

Every individual who has raised their right hand to serve in the U.S. military has their own reasons. Not surprisingly, Joshua and Jeremiahs' motives as to why they serve are nearly identical.

"I am a patriot," Joshua said. "Many people came before us and sacrificed themselves for our country, and I am here to do my part."

"The reason why I am here is to serve my country," Jeremiah said. "In civilian life I'm a police officer and I serve my local community but here it's a much bigger picture I have the opportunity to serve the nation."

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