Twins serve in Marines together, but in separate platoons

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 12, 2011

By Lance Cpl. Francisco Abundes
U.S. Marine Corps
PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. — Most recruits in training probably wish they had a familiar face beside them to make it easier, but for twin brothers from Salisbury who graduated in November, it was different.
Brian and Matthew Lentz arrived to recruit training on the buddy system but were accidentally separated. When given the option to be placed together, they chose to remain with their platoons and endure the rest of the 13 weeks apart.
“Once we realized they were twins, we tried to put them in the same platoon,” said Staff Sgt. Cecil Compton, senior drill instructor for Platoon 1089, Alpha Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion.
“But they said no — they wanted to stay with their platoons. To me, that meant a lot because it showed pride in your unit.”
But for the Lentz brothers, having their own platoons was also another part of growing up.
“We’ve done everything together our whole lives,” said Pfc. Brian Lentz, Platoon 1089. “I just wanted to be separate from him in my own platoon and go through this without someone I knew when I first got there.”
The twins chose to enlist when they were 17 years old, while still in high school.
“Matthew is the one that early on I could tell had a great interest in the military,” said Patricia Lentz, the new Marines’ mother. “It was later that Brian showed that same interest.”
Although they shared the same interest in service, the 18-year-olds joined the Corps for different reasons.
“I decided that if I was going to join the military, I would do the hardest one to prove something about myself,” Brian Lentz said.
On the other hand, Pfc. Matthew Lentz, Platoon 1088, joined to be different from his peers, who enlisted in the Army.
“People say ‘Once a Marine, always a Marine,’ ” he said. “It’s a big deal to be a part of something that has such a big history.”
The Lentz brothers used that same pride to fuel them through recruit training.
Although it took a big toll physically and emotionally on the brothers, weakness could not be shown when competing against one another.
“They’ve always tried to be better than the other,” Patricia Lentz said. “There’s been that good, healthy competitive spirit all throughout their lives.”
The drill instructors also pushed the recruits to compete against each other to represent their platoons.
“They’re all about competition against each other,” Compton said. “It’s the identical twin thing; they’re always trying to break away from one another. I think that’s what has driven them through recruit training — to stand out.”
And even as the teens argued about who won what competition, one thing was clear: these two brothers were anything but identical.
“They have really done well to develop into their own person,” Patricia Lentz said. “They have been able to develop their own idea of who they are and what they want to do. That good, brotherly, competitive spirit is there, but they really, truly care about each other and they do get along pretty well.”