Face of Defense: Friends Become Army Brothers in Arms

FORT JACKSON, S.C. — When Army Pvt. Jereld Van­hook arrived�to go through basic com­bat train­ing here nine weeks ago, his good friend Pfc. Omari Paul was by his side.

Army Pvt. Jereld Van­hook, left, and Pfc. Omari Paul par­tic­i­pate in a basic com­bat train­ing exer­cise at Fort Jack­son, S.C. The two have lived togeth­er like broth­ers since 2007 and decid­ed to join the Army Reserve togeth­er.
Cour­tesy pho­to
Click to enlarge

Van­hook and Paul, who are assigned to Com­pa­ny A, 3rd Bat­tal­ion, 13th Infantry Reg­i­ment, are not relat­ed, but the two friends from Brook­lyn, N.Y., have lived togeth­er since 2007, and con­sid­er each oth­er as broth­ers. Van­hook lived with Paul and his fam­i­ly through­out high school, and they lat­er stud­ied at the same col­lege. Moti­vat­ed by Paul’s sis­ter, who had served in the mil­i­tary, the two decid­ed to enlist in the Army Reserve. 

Paul and Van­hook were cho­sen as pla­toon lead­ers at the same time ear­ly in basic training. 

“For me to get picked, I felt hon­ored. I nev­er expect­ed to come into the mil­i­tary and be in any lead­er­ship posi­tion at all,” Van­hook said. 

Paul “is a nat­ur­al-born leader. He stood out from Day One,” said Army Staff Sgt. Mar­qui­ta Daniels, one of Paul’s drill sergeants. 

“I was­n’t aware that he had a broth­er [here], until one day I actu­al­ly heard him say they were broth­ers,” Daniels said. “I thought it was a joke. Both of them are very high-speed soldiers.” 

Army Capt. Sher­ric Nel­son, the com­pa­ny com­man­der, said the syn­er­gy between the two sol­diers is apparent. 

“They moti­vate the com­pa­ny togeth­er. … They push each oth­er on the phys­i­cal fit­ness test. They’re just a pos­i­tive [duo],” Nel­son said. 

Van­hook said serv­ing with Paul dur­ing basic train­ing is an advantage. 

“It feels great know­ing that I have some­one that I already had a con­nec­tion with before the Army,” he said. 

The two sol­diers are sched­uled to grad­u­ate Oct. 27. Their fam­i­lies are plan­ning to attend Fam­i­ly Day and grad­u­a­tion events together. 

After grad­u­a­tion, Van­hook and Paul will move on to Fort Sam Hous­ton, Texas, where they will attend train­ing to become mil­i­tary health care spe­cial­ists. They plan to fin­ish their col­lege edu­ca­tions, Paul in elec­tri­cal engi­neer­ing and Van­hook in account­ing and busi­ness financing. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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