Twin brothers, separated during childhood, serve together

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Burke Baker
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
SOUTHWEST ASIA -- By any measure, brothers Staff Sgt. Billy and Senior Airman Barrington Medeiros of the 143rd Airlift Wing, Rhode Island Air National Guard had a tough childhood. Originally born in California, the identical twins--separated by only a minute--moved to Rhode Island at a very early age. For the brothers, life there wasn't idyllic.

"My parents had a checkered past. It didn't stop when we were born," said Billy. "So when we were 10 years old, the state stepped in and removed Barrington, my two sisters and myself from our home."

The brothers initially stayed at a group home for troubled youth while the state looked for a foster home that would accept them all together.

"It was interesting," said Billy. "It's hard to place that many children and even harder to place teenagers, as our situation was getting close to being."

The children were initially placed in a foster home together, but it was a short lived situation for the two brothers. The state separated them about the time they turned 13.

"[Billy] ended up going to a foster home in North Kingstown and I went to a home in Scituate," said Barrington.

The distance between the two: 45 minutes. And although the brothers saw each other at least monthly, the two never lived together again.

"We stayed in contact, but we grew up apart," said Barrington.

"It was tough," said Billy. "I probably went to six different elementary/junior high schools and three different high schools."

Barrington joked, "When I was 20, I lived in a Pontiac Fiero for a couple of weeks. It had a great view, over the laundry basket in the passenger seat. I was never late for work because I slept in the parking lot."

Despite the obstacles, the two Guardsmen have used the lessons learned in their youth and now serve their state and nation through a combination of hard work and discipline.

At 24, Billy was the first of the pair to join the Guard as an Aerospace Propulsion Technician. Barrington enlisted four years later, joining his brother in the engine shop.

"He went away to [Basic Military Training] and I went away to Afghanistan" said Billy. "I wanted more out of life, and the Guard gave it to me, it really did."

"I wanted to do something that my kids could be proud of," said Barrington, who was recently promoted to Senior Airman.

In late October the brothers, who are stationed at Quonset Air National Guard Base in Rhode Island, deployed to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia as part of the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing.

Though Billy has deployed multiple times, this is Barrington's first time.

"It's a lot less stressful than being here alone, I will say that," said Barrington. "There's no one else I'd rather be working with. There's no one else I'd rather have watching my back."

Maj. Christopher Peloso, the officer-in-charge of the brother's section, said the twins have made a distinct impression on him.

"Having the Medeiros twins on this deployment has been a force multiplier to our Aircraft Maintenance Unit. They're cut from the same cloth which embodies hard work ethic, integrity, responsibility and accountability. To witness their success in life and on this deployment, despite the obstacles, is inspiring. I'm extremely proud to have them on the team," he said.

The Medeiros brothers are similarly proud of their service.

"[Deploying] has definitely been something very positive. It offers something that most civilians will never see or do," said Billy.