Thursday, April 18, 2013

Happy Birthday, Dan and Dave

Forty years ago today was one of the most exciting days of our lives.  Our twins were born at 0230 and 0240.  We knew we were having twins but we didn't know they would be boys (which was great because we already had two girls), we didn't know they would be identical, and we certainly didn't know they would turn out to be so amazing.
This year I've tried to do birthday interviews for each family member on their special day, but since the boys are so far apart and so very busy at this point in their military careers, it just wasn't feasible.  Instead, I'm going to tell you a few things you may not know about them.
The summer after they graduated from high school, they went to Army Basic Camp in Fort Knox, Kentucky where they were bunk mates.  Basic Camp is comparable to basic training and based on their performance there, they decided to attend Kemper Military School and College in Booneville, Missouri - one of only three early commissioning programs in the country. 
During their freshman year at Kemper they were both among the approximately 20% of cadets indoctrinated into Scabbard and Blade - a college military honor society.
Between their freshman and sophomore years at Kemper they attended the Army Advanced camp in  Ft. Lewis, Washington.
And during their 2nd year of college each commanded one of the two companies at Kemper.
After graduating with Associates degrees from Kemper, they headed to Muncie with the intention of taking the Architectural Course at Ball State but upon finding out that they didn't have the prerequisite courses, they switched to Criminal Justice.  It only took a semester to realize that it wasn't for them so they transferred to Purdue University in Lafayette to take the Construction Management Course.

Although they didn't find the educational opportunities in Muncie that they'd hoped for, they both found something else.  They were only there a few weeks when they both met the Muncie girls that they would later marry and who they are happily wedded too today.
While they were in college at Purdue they were in the reserves and finding the military to be a good fit.  During that year they tried out for the prestigious EIB or Expert Infantryman's Badge - but they didn't get it and neither did anyone else in their Division.  They tried again the second year with the same result.  But the 3rd year they tried along with 98 others and Dan and Dave were 2 of only 3 out of that 100 that did get it.  After three years of effort, only three candidates in their Division were awarded the EIB, and they were two of them.
 After their graduation from Purdue with Bachelor of Science degrees in Construction Management, they went to Ft. Leonard Wood to take the Officer Basic Course.  They lived next to each other, with their wives, in a small community called Evening Shade located at the back gate of Ft. Leonard Wood.

Then came Ranger School.  According to Wikepedia, "The purpose of the course is learning to soldier as a combat leader while enduring the great mental and psychological stresses and physical fatigue of combat. Ranger students conduct about 20 hours of training per day, while consuming two or fewer meals daily with an average of 3.5 hours of sleep a day. Ranger students typically wear and carry some 65–90 pounds of weapons, equipment, and training ammunition while patrolling more than 200 miles throughout the course."  Wikipedia also says, "Following the completion of Ranger School, a student will usually find himself in the worst shape of his life and because of the physical and psychological effect of low calorie intake over an extended period of time, it is not uncommon for many Ranger School graduates to encounter weight problems as they return to their units and their bodies and minds slowly adjust to routine again. A drastically lowered metabolic rate, combined with a nearly insatiable appetite (the result of food deprivation and the ensuing survivalist mentality) can cause quick weight gain."  I know this to be true because a few weeks after Ranger School which they both got through on their first try, I saw them overweight for the first (and last so far) time in their lives.
 After That, Dave went to Ft. Campbell, KY and Dan went to Schofield Barracks in Hawaii.

About three years later, they were back together at Ft. Leonard Wood for their Officers Advanced Course.  At that time, caaptains were housed in duplexes and amazingly, they shared one.  Each housing unit had a placard with the officer's name next to the door.  On the duplex shared by Dan and Dave, one end said Cpt. Hibner....and so did the other.  I heard that more than one person wanted to know how this Cpt. Hibner got both sides of his duplex.

After this course, they took the Engineering Management Course at the University of Missouri to get Masters Degrees in Engineering Management.

Then they headed to Ft. Stewart, GA with the 3rd Infantry Division where they looked out their back doors, across a playground to the other's back door.  They did staff work there for about a year and then were selected as Company Commanders.  This is a very intense job for young officers but not as intense as it would become.  

In September, 2002, Dave went to Kuwait to get ready for a possible invasion of Iraq 
 and in January, 2003, Dan followed.
The war began on March 21st and the boys didn't see each other again until they were reunited at Baghdad International Airport.  
Although it was only about three weeks, this period of time seemed like a lifetime to both of them. (I would have to write a book to share their many heroic and dramatic experiences.)   Dave got home the end of May and Dan shortly after.

After this, their careers took them in different directions.  They were only neighbors once more at Ft. Leavenworth, KS from June, 2007 until June 2008.

Following are more interesting facts about our boys.

Dave has been deployed twice - Iraq and Afghanistan.

 Dave in Afghanistan, 2011
Dan has been deployed five times - Kosovo once, and Iraq four times and he'll be leaving for Afghanistan within the next couple of months.

Dan in Kosovo, 2001
Dan in Iraq, 2005
 Dan in Iraq, 2008
Both graduated from Airborne and Air Assault School.
They were promoted to Captain, Major, and Lieutenant Colonel on the same days.

Although only about 10% of all Lieutenant Colonels get battalion commands, both Dan and Dave got one and got their first choices.

Among their many medals and awards (including the EIB), both have bronze stars, purple hearts for shrapnel wounds, and Silver Stars, the third highest military decoration for valor.  This medal is awarded for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States.

And my final bit of information about the boys that most people don't know is that they never flew in an airplane until 1992 and both jumped out of that airplane on the same day.  As a matter of fact, they drove from Kemper to Ft. Benning to go to airborne school. 
And the first five times they took off in airplanes, they never landed - at least not with the plane.

And then there are the facts we all know.  They are very, very nice boys who love their families.  They have wonderful senses of humor and there's nothing more joyful than hearing them laugh together endlessly after having been separated for a long time.   And, they're sensitive, thoughtful, and kind.  They're also loving husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons; and hard workers who have not only extensively remodeled both their homes but also do the repairs and upkeep on ours.
We're beyond proud of them and are wishing them the best birthdays ever!





2 comments:

  1. Your sons are wonderful, amazing men. Thank you so much for sharing them with us and for their service to our country. I can't even imagine how proud you must be of them.

    ReplyDelete
  2. wow, reading this was like reading a book that you just hope never ends! There really should be a book written about them! We are so lucky to be blessed with them for our brothers! I love this post so much! Happy Birthday, Dan and Dave!

    ReplyDelete

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