"Twin" brothers in arms: Two brothers call Fairchild home

  • Published
  • By Scott King
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
     It's not that unusual to see twins these days, however, it's extremely unusual to see twins both in the Air Force, both the same rank, stationed together at the same Air Force Base and assigned to the same squadron. But, this is the case for staff sergeants Cody and Christopher Engelke.
Both brothers are assigned to the 92nd Civil Engineer Squadron at Fairchild. Cody is a Geospatial Information & Services Craftsman, and Christopher is a Fire Protection Crew Chief & Station Captain.
     The brothers were born Oct. 1, 1982 in Nordenham, Germany to Hans-Joachim and Teresa Engelke. Their father was an officer in the German Air Force and after he got out the family relocated to Basin City, Wash to assist managing a farm operation with a family their father had stayed with for a while as a high school student.
Growing up they were very close, competitive and goal-oriented.
     "Chris and I were very close growing up, and in a lot of ways depended on each other and our combined resources [two heads are better than one] to achieve our goals," Cody said. "I got to go through the first 18 years of my life with him, and this was beneficial for both of us because we competed at everything and pushed each other to succeed at a very high level."
Christopher mirrors how his brother feels about their childhood.
     "Yes, we were and are still very close to each other," Christopher said. "We had all the same friends, played all the same sports, took all the same AP classes and even worked together on our family farm. We both pulled our weight on the farm because there was little room for error since the livelihood of the family was dependant on the crops we grew. Cody and I accomplished tasks more quickly and accurately because we are always pushing ourselves to outperform the other - we still do."
Wanting to test new waters following high school they went their separate ways; however brief.
     Christopher decided to attend Eastern Washington University. After a year he decided it would be better financially to join the Air Force to utilize tuition assistance and GI Bill benefits to complete college while learning a valuable trade while serving his country.
     "I contacted a recruiter, but of all the jobs listed none caught my eye as something I would want to do," Christopher said. "But, on a drive back to Tri-Cities from Portland my recruiter got a call from the Military Entrance Processing Station saying they had a firefighter position available and they would send him details on the career field for me to review. I thought it would be an exciting job. As it turns out being a firefighter is the greatest, most dynamic, rewarding job for me - Cody would soon follow my lead."
     On his own dime, Cody went to the University of Washington majoring in Pre-Aerospace Engineering. After two years he switched his degree track to Mechanical Engineering and attended for two more years, however due to rising tuition costs he had to call it quits.
     "Chris had been in the Air Force for three years and I could tell he enjoyed being a firefighter," Cody said. "I asked him if the Air Force had any programs geared towards advanced education and commissioning and he informed me they did. I also wanted to utilize my schooling and interest in engineering. After a little bit of my own research I knew that the Air Force would allow me to reach my educational goals and personal interests all while serving my country - so I joined."
     To stay close to home [Basin City, Wash., two hours from Fairchild] they both volunteered to take remote assignments to Korea in hopes of getting follow-on assignments to Fairchild. It paid off, following Cody's tour at Kunsan Air Base, Korea and Christopher's tour at Osan AB, Korea they landed at Fairchild.
     "I feel extremely fortunate and blessed that my brother and I have been able to get an assignment at Fairchild and hope that we will be able to have more joint assignments in the future," Cody said. "If you think of twins the same way as a joint spouse scenario, by keeping families together, the Air Force is building a stronger foundation while keeping families strong."
     Christopher enjoys having his brother at an arm's reach.
     "I think it's pretty cool we are fortunate enough to continue to be together. I know with just a phone call he will be there quickly if needed," Christopher said. "We have brought our hard-working ethic from the farm to the Air Force and Fairchild. Growing up on the farm has given my brother and I the strength to never give up and strive for excellence in all we do instead of just shooting for the minimum required standards. Working in the fire service requires excellence - without it, people can die." 
     The brothers don't get to spend as much time together as they would like due to conflicting work schedules, but they and their families get together as opportunities present themselves.
     Their families are close-knit and get together for dinners and movies. In the summer they golf together, and in the winter they go to the mountains to snowboard and ski.
"Cody is, and always will be my brother," Christopher said. "I think it's in the cards we will remain close - both mentally and physically located."
     "Twenty nine years later, I think it's awesome my brother is still by my side, "Cody said. "I know him as well as I know myself - we have a bond that can never be broken."