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'Double Trouble' in training

Shaina Williams, left, and Shannon Barber, Dobbins 94th Airlift Wing development and training flight trainees, pose for a photo on the flightline at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga. July 9, 2017. Williams and Barber are identical twins and are preparing to go to basic military training later this year. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Lauren Douglas)

Shaina Williams, left, and Shannon Barber, Dobbins 94th Airlift Wing development and training flight trainees, pose for a photo on the flightline at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga. July 9, 2017. Williams and Barber are identical twins and are preparing to go to basic military training later this year. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Lauren Douglas)

Shaina Williams adjusts Shannon Barber's hat as they pose for a photo on the flightline at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga. July 9, 2017. The sisters are identical twins and currently train with the 94th Airlift Wing development and training flight. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Lauren Douglas)

Shaina Williams adjusts Shannon Barber's hat as they pose for a photo on the flightline at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga. July 9, 2017. The sisters are identical twins and currently train with the 94th Airlift Wing development and training flight. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Lauren Douglas)

Shaina Williams, foreground, and Shannon Barber, 94th Airlift Wing development and training flight trainees, prepare to run at the base track at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga. Sept. 10, 2017. Both sisters ran track and field at Georgia State University before enlisting in the Air Force Reserve. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Lauren Douglas)

Shaina Williams, foreground, and Shannon Barber, 94th Airlift Wing development and training flight trainees, prepare to run at the base track at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga. Sept. 10, 2017. Both sisters ran track and field at Georgia State University before enlisting in the Air Force Reserve. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Lauren Douglas)

DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. -- On a typical drill weekend morning, Master Sgt. Carl VanDiver, 94th Airlift Wing development and training flight program manager and instructor, leads fitness workouts for the flight. On this particular day, he noticed one trainee whose hair was out of regulations. Since his responsibilities include teaching trainees about military regulations, he requested she fix her hair; she obliged.

Later that day, VanDiver walked into a classroom full of eager trainees. He saw the same young lady, again noticing her hair out of regulations. Just as he began to reprimand her, he saw another young lady sitting next to the one he was about to scold. VanDiver did a double take.

Identical twins! He was visibly shocked and the class noticed. They laughed and he acknowledged the mistake. The twins said they had no idea he was unaware of their presence, but VanDiver insisted they confused him on purpose.

“Of course, when the class saw my expression everybody burst out laughing,” said VanDiver. “I found out that they had somewhat been doing this to other people in the class all day because someone would be talking to one of them, thinking they were talking to the other one and didn’t realize there were two. That’s why I gave them the nickname ‘Double Trouble.’”

Shannon Barber and Shaina Williams are part of the development and training flight at Dobbins and are preparing to go to basic military training later this year. Barber started her training at Dobbins in June and left for BMT in early September. Williams started her development training in April and heads to basic in December.

Williams said she was asked to show off her Air Force knowledge her first weekend in development training and remembered how nerve racking it was to be put on the spot. She said she didn’t want any additional focus in her direction just because of her sister’s presence.

“I think what threw him off was the last names,” said Barber, laughing.

They maintain that they did not set out to confuse the instructor or anyone in the class.

The identical pair, born and raised as Williams, is from Thomson, Georgia. They attended Georgia State University where they participated in track and field. Barber is married with a 4-year-old daughter, and Williams has an 8-year-old son. Barber has a Master’s degree in social work and child welfare and works in Fulton County with foster care and adoption services. Williams has two Bachelor’s degrees and a Master’s in fields related to exercise science, health and wellness. She teaches at a middle school in Fulton County and coaches track and field.

“As life progressed, we got to a point after having a family that I went to Shaina and just asked her, ‘Why not?’” said Barber, of joining the Air Force Reserve. “We talked about it and decided to do it.”

Although they had initially hoped to stay together through each step of joining the military, there were a few factors they had to consider. First, the sisters completed their enlistment requirements at different times, which led to them swearing in on different dates. Next, their education and experience led them to different jobs within the Air Force Reserve.

“It’s scary to know that we will be separated,” explained Williams. “We went to the recruiter and told him we’re coming into this thing together. We’re used to being together. We wanted to get the same job, not knowing that that’s not really going to be the case.”

The two will be celebrating their 30th birthday later this month. This will be their first birthday apart and their first time ever being so far apart for an extended period of time. They have always lived together or within a short driving distance of one another; however, they will both graduate from technical training school in May and return to Dobbins at the same time.

After graduation, Barber will be a medical technician and Williams a maintenance management analyst. The two are satisfied with their career choices and both say they are excited to get to basic training and start their Air Force Reserve careers.

“Both of them are very smart young ladies, very knowledgeable,” said VanDiver. “Their maturity is definitely an asset for them. They can handle stress better than some younger trainees. They’re able take direction a lot quicker.”

“Shannon’s encouragement really pushed me out there and I think this is one of the best decisions I’ve made,” said Williams, smiling.