November 8th, 2017-Twin Sisters With Roots In Wauseon, Both Served Their Country

SISTERS SERVE … Tanya and Tricia in Iraq, 2005, First Deployment. (PHOTO PROVIDED)

By: Tammy Allison

Tanya (Leupp) Hatch and Tricia (Leupp) Hoover, twin sisters with roots in Wauseon, have an amazing story of sisterhood and service. Over the past twenty years, their lives have taken them on a journey of shared experiences as they have both served their country as members of the US Army Reserves.

Both sisters who grew up in Wauseon had typical upbringings for girls in Northwest Ohio. Tanya loved school, reading, and going to the swimming pool. She participated in a lot of summer sports leagues such as softball, tennis, track and in church activities. Tricia was also very involved in school activities including cheerleading, Honor Society, Girls’ Christian Fellowship, and French Club.

Neither sister had thoughts of joining the military while growing up. During high school, all students were encouraged to take the ASVAB, the entrance exam necessary to get into the military, but Tanya didn’t bother because she had no intention of joining the military. However, Tricia took the test as practice for the ACT test and scored well. One day during the summer between their junior and senior years, Tricia received a phone call from a recruiter. She agreed to meet him. Tanya recalls it as, “She basically scheduled an appointment with him because she thought it would be the fastest way to get him off the phone and get back to her nap!”

A recruiter came to talk to Tricia, and she decided pretty quickly that she was going to enlist in the Army Reserves. Tricia spent some time reflecting over the decision and two weeks later when the recruiter called her back, she told him she wanted to join. Tricia shares, “I joined for a number of reasons, but primarily for the GI Bill benefits, opportunities to travel, and simple patriotism.” The two sisters talked about Tricia’s decision a few times throughout the summer, and Tanya found herself drawn to some of the same opportunities and benefits such as help with college tuition and opportunities to travel and meet different people.

The sisters made their decisions independently of one another. Tricia decided in June, and Tanya enlisted two months later. Once they both committed to joining, they ensured that they had the same ship date for basic training. “We thought that would make it a lot easier on our family if we left on the same day,” explains Tricia.

Tanya enlisted in the Army Reserves and just reached 20 years of service in August. She completed basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina and then her AIT, advanced individual training, at Fort Lee, Virginia. Afterward, she was assigned to the 983rd Engineer Battalion in Monclova, Ohio. Tricia has also served 20 years in the Army Reserves in the Quartermaster Branch. She also completed her basic training at Fort Jackson, SC and individual advanced training at Fort Lee, VA in 1998. After training, she returned to Ohio and worked for a year before starting college. She, too, continued to drill at her first unit, the 983rd Engineer Battalion in Monclova, OH.

In 2004, Tricia experienced her first overseas deployment and was stationed in Camp Speicher, Iraq and Camp Taqaddum, Iraq through 2005. She has also been deployed to Joint Base Balad in Iraq in 2007-2008 and to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait in 2012.

Tricia reflects back on her deployment as times of growth in her life. She shares, “During my first deployment in 2004, living conditions were pretty austere. We lived in tents. We had no days off. We had an internet cafe several miles away, so we sent emails home once or twice a week. We spent most of our downtime playing cards or reading. Missions were very stressful and we lost Soldiers from our unit, including our platoon sergeant. Each of my successive deployments got a bit better. Living conditions improved. We would occasionally get a day off.”

Tanya also deployed to Iraq in 2004-2005 with an Engineer Battalion. The two sisters who were deployed at the same time were stationed at the same location in Iraq at Camp Speicher for about half of the deployment. They worked in maintenance offices next door to each other and shared a room. But after about 6 months, their battalion split up and went to multiple locations throughout Iraq. Tanya was stationed for the next 5 months or so at Camp Ramadi while Tricia was stationed across a very large lake at Camp Taqaddum. They only saw each other once or twice over the next 5 months, but their jobs required that they talk every couple days. Tricia explains, “We often asked friends who were convoying between the camps to carry items that they couldn’t get at their own camp like certain snacks or books or letters from home to each other.”

In 2010-2011, Tanya was deployed to central Iraq again with an Expeditionary Sustainment Command. And in 2014, she was deployed to Afghanistan with a Quartermaster Company.

Both sisters have dedicated twenty years of their lives to serving their country. Over the years, their time in the service has also provided some unique experiences of serving closely together. Because they have the same MOS (military occupational specialty code), they have done a lot of their training together, including basic training, AIT, and several other military schools. They shared the same first duty assignment at Monclova, Ohio but then spent about 10 years in different units.

Through the years, although the sisters have not always been stationed in the same area, the bond of twinhood and military service has strengthened their relationship. The two share they have always been close. “Serving together has allowed us to share some of most character forming and life changing experiences of our lives,” Tricia states.

Although they have pursued different careers and have lived hours apart, the military is a huge part of the life experience they share. They know the same people and the same place.

“A couple years after I deployed to Joint Base Balad in Iraq, Tanya deployed there. She lived in a trailer 20 yards from the trailer I lived in and passed by the building I had worked in that year. I could picture her daily walk to work, the weather conditions seasonally, the laundry facilities there….everything. We’ve walked the same ground and that bonds us even more,” reflects Tricia.

Tanya shares similar sentiments. “I feel incredibly fortunate that I’ve had my twin sister on this 20 year journey with me! Being in the military is such a unique occupation with its own culture, language, experiences, requirements, and sacrifices. It is so nice to have someone that understands the situations that arise and offers such great advice. We chose the same MOS when we enlisted and both became warrant officers about 10 years ago. So we really understand the positions and tasks that each other face.”

For about the last 3 years, they have both been assigned to the 316th Expeditionary Sustainment Command in Coraopolis, PA outside of Pittsburgh as Senior Supply Systems Technicians.

Tanya and Tricia are both married to military spouses. Tanya has one stepdaughter, one stepson, and a 7 month old daughter. Tricia and her husband have a nine month old daughter. Both sisters find it helpful to have husbands also in the service because they understand the demands and the rewards of the military.

Despite the sacrifices and challenges of military life, both sisters feel deeply blessed and enriched by the paths they have chosen in life. Their service has allowed them to travel to many countries, obtain their college education, gain valuable skills that have helped them in their present civilian jobs, and develop deep friendships.

For a young person considering a life in the service, Tanya offers this advice, “Pick your branch and career field carefully. If you are a young person that hasn’t thought much about going active duty military, consider the Army Reserves or National Guard. They also offer a lot of great benefits while still allowing you to pursue another career or college.”

Their service to their country could not have been possible without the tremendous support of their family and friends. Tanya shares, “Our loved ones carry a tremendous weight in our absence…worry and concern about our safety, lack of physical and emotional care from us when we are deployed or at training, managing new financial responsibilities, etc.”.

They are extremely grateful for the support and love of their family and friends over the past 20 years. They have made their service possible. Tricia expresses, “There are innumerable sacrifices to serving, but it pays you back so richly as well. It’s very personally rewarding. But ultimately, I’m just one Soldier in a long line of veterans. Each person will serve for his own reasons, but it is an incredible opportunity to be part of something so much larger than yourself.”

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