Twins turn heads at wing
By Master Sgt. Shayne Sewell, 459th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs Office
/ Published February 24, 2007
ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md. -- "When a lady saw us at the dining facility today, she almost dropped her plate," said Master Sgt. Gary Snowden, 459th Aerial Port Squadron, identical twin brother to Master Sgt. Greg Snowden of the 459th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.
Following the footsteps of their father, Greg joined the 459th Tactical Airlift Wing when he was only 18 years old - 23 years ago. But instead of being a law enforcement specialist like his father, he became an air reserve technician fuels systems mechanic working for the next 10 years in the fuel cell before deciding to retrain to become a crew chief, and eventually becoming head crew chief.
Following in his father's footsteps as well as a law enforcement officer, Gary became a Prince George's County police officer instead of joining the Air Force Reserve Command like his brother. "We were supposed to join together in 1984 under the buddy system but I changed my mind," said Gary. "I thought my civilian career opportunities seemed more promising at the time."
While Gary saw his brother traveling everywhere as a fuel systems mechanic and then a crew chief, Gary decided to join and follow in his brother's footsteps. He enlisted into the Air Force in 1990 - six years after his twin brother enlisted. Gary spent 13 years as a jet engine mechanic before retraining into the aerial port so he too could travel and see the world as his brother was and has been doing for the past 23 years.
Now, 17 years later for Gary and 23 years later for Greg, both Snowden brothers are well known in the 459th Air Refueling Wing. Despite being in the unit as long as they both have, however, some folks are still in awe that there are two of them.
Growing up in Washington, both boys were close. "I didn't go any where my brother didn't go," said Gary. As kids in school, they gave each other the answers. "Teachers had to separate us," Gary said. The twins are used to people not being able to tell them apart. "People see us and they don't know who is who, so we're just cordial. You don't want to offend anyone," said Greg. "Someone my brother knows will see me and say, 'hi' and even though I don't know him, I just go with it," said Greg.
They often confuse people when seen apart. They don't go on temporary duty assignments often together but they have had a chance to overlap on a couple of trips. Between 2004 and 2006, Gary has deployed to Uzbekistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Germany, Panama, and Dover Air Force Base, Delaware.
On one particular trip, Gary was deployed to Turkey with the aerial port and his brother Greg was on the C-130 crew that flew from Uzbekistan to Turkey to deliver supplies. The C-130 crew were confused when they saw (who they thought was Greg) in Turkey unloading the cargo, but it was in fact his brother Gary, working on the ground for the aerial port in Turkey. The crew couldn't figure out how Greg got on the ground so fast.
They tend to fool a lot of people. Most wouldn't be able to tell them apart unless they really know them. They have a lot in common. Both fathers and uncles, they each have three children - the same ages. They each have a 22-year-old, a 15-year-old and a 13-year-old. They both have two sons and one daughter and all four sons (two ach respectively) were born on the 14th of the month - the same as their fathers! Gary's 22-year-old son had twin boys (Isaac and Isaiah) last year, to carry on the twin gene in the Snowden family.
Gary and Greg's parents, who now live close to their twin boys and grandchildren, are very proud of their sons and their careers in the Air Force, both twins said. Will the younger Snowden children join the 459th in their father's footsteps? They haven't yet shown an interest in joining in the military, said both Greg and Gary. But 459th ARW might just be home to future Snowdens.