Michigan National Guard
Story by Capt. Joe Legros
WASHINGTON – Soldiers with the 1436th Engineer Company, 507th Engineer Battalion, Michigan Army National Guard, are on duty in Washington as part of the ongoing security mission in support of federal and local authorities.
They joined thousands of National Guard troops from multiple states and territories. For some, the uniforms may make the Soldiers appear indistinguishable from one another.
That is especially true for two Soldiers with the 1436th Eng. Co., Spcs. Jonathan and Joshua Mock. Not only are they brothers, they are identical twins.
“We enlisted together,” said Joshua, who is seven minutes older. “I don’t think we look alike, but we continue to confuse people by staying together and serving in the same unit.”
After ten weeks of basic training in separate companies of the same battalion at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, they were reunited for eleven weeks of advanced individual training at engineer school in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. While there, they learned to use heavy equipment such as bulldozers, excavators, backhoes, scrapers and other specialized vehicles to complete construction projects.
The Mocks graduated from AIT in September 2020 and returned to their unit, but have never drilled in person with the 1436th Eng. Co., based in Montague, Michigan.
“We completed a few online engineer courses,” said Joshua. “But due to COVID-19 restrictions, the first time we met our unit was when we received orders for D.C. support.”
Fresh out of AIT, the twins deployed for their first mission.
Upon arrival in Washington, these identical engineers discarded their hardhats and bulldozers for helmets and protective gear as they provided area security in support of the U.S. Capitol Police.
“I’m excited about being in D.C. serving with my platoon,” said Joshua. “This deployment has allowed me to actually meet people from my unit. Despite not training with them before leaving Michigan, I’ve gotten to know them pretty well now.”
Even with the excitement, neither twin expected to be in the district as they had other plans the day they were called to report to their unit for a mission briefing.
“That was the same day I was supposed to move into my dormitory in Ann Arbor,” said Joshua, who was slated to attend the University of Michigan. He said he plans to pick up his studies as soon as the deployment concludes, while his brother will attend Eastern Michigan University, only a few miles away in Ypsilanti.
“My bags were packed,” said Jonathan. “We were actually going to drive together from our hometown of Jenison because our universities are not too far from one another. Yes, the deployment news was a bit of a shock at first.”
It would have been their first semester of college.
“Even though it means I can’t attend the university this semester, there are still educational benefits to being here,” said Joshua, adding that being in Washington has given him a firsthand opportunity to see structural engineering projects in the area.
His brother has slightly different interests.
“It’s computer science for me,” shared Jonathan. “I’m not sure if I’ll get a chance to do anything related to that while I’m here, but that’s okay.”
The twins will also turn 19 while on-mission in Washington and expressed gratitude for spending their birthday in the nation’s capital.
“It’s a different way to celebrate,” Joshua said.
“I’m just along for the ride,” Jonathan jokingly added. “I really do feel good about being here in D.C., even on my birthday.”
But the unexpected mission did give them pause at first.
“Once I came to grips with missing an entire semester of college, I decided I’m grateful to serve,” said Jonathan.
The brothers said they play cards and talk with friends during break times, relaxing in indoor rest areas shielded from the cold and wind outside. But once their shift starts again, they’re bundled up and fully focused on the mission.
“I originally joined because of the educational benefits,” said Joshua. “But now I’ve found additional value in serving.”
Joshua said he enjoys the opportunity to travel, as well as the chance to give back to the communities he visits, and he looks forward to seeing the rest of the world.
“I’m excited about the possibility of deploying overseas,” he said. “Just like in D.C., it will mean that I won’t be able to go to college or see my family and friends back in Michigan. But I look forward to serving my country while seeing the world.”
While in the district, the duo serves under the command of U.S. Army Col. Chris McKinney and Joint Task Force Independence.
“There’s a historic element to serving in the National Guard,” said McKinney, commander of both the 177th Military Police Brigade and JTF Independence. “We follow the footsteps of those who donned the uniform before us. Here in Washington, we actually step where our nation’s forefathers walked.”
JTF Independence is a combined, joint military effort to provide security for key buildings around Washington.
In addition to being in Washington, and the historic nature of the mission, the Mock brothers had the opportunity to visit a local steakhouse during downtime and said there have been other highlights as well.
“I also got promoted to specialist last week,” said Joshua. “So I’m already forming good memories of what happened here in Washington.”