Story by Staff Sgt. Debralee Best
363rd Public Affairs Detachment
FORT McCOY, Wis. – Soldiers usually find their battle buddies during training or in their units. One Soldier was lucky enough to find his four minutes after birth.
Spc. Robert Bartoli, supply and logistics specialist, 340th Military Police Battalion out of Ashley, Penn., was only four minutes old when his battle buddy and identical twin brother, Spc. Anthony Bartoli, a food service specialist also with the 340th, was born.
The twins, hailing from Olyphant, Pa., are currently participating in Warrior Exercise 86 at Fort McCoy, Wis., for their Extended Combat Training with the Army Reserve.
Anthony works in the mobile kitchen unit preparing food for the troops at Forward Operating Base EPW2 while Robert spends his days working supply and logistics issues in the 340th command tent, also at EPW2. Although the twins are at the same base, they say they have rarely seen each other since arriving.
“I’ve seen him around (the base),” said Anthony. “He’s on one side of the FOB and I’m on the other.”
Anthony was released 10 minutes early one day so he could sit and eat with his brother, but other than that time, the twins say they have spent no more than a few minutes together since arriving.
Although they are roommates back in civilian life, their situation here isn’t much different from home.
“At home we barely talk, he sleeps all day because he works nights,” said Robert.
“I do,” said Anthony. “When I’m up, I usually bother him. Try to hide in his room, lock his door.”
Anthony spurred the twins into action while still in high school, encouraging Robert to sign up for the Army.
“He came to me and said, ‘Hey, sign up for the Army. You should talk to ‘em, man. That would be great. Make so much money. We’re still in high school,’” said Robert.
“I joined first,” said Anthony, “and then he joined a week after I did.”
“I was actually sworn in before him though, so that’s weird,” said Robert.
The twins then attended the same basic training and were assigned to different platoons, but the same company. Being twins, this was not an enjoyable experience for them.
“Too much attention (from the drill sergeants). They called me meatball and him spaghetti because I was really heavy when I joined and he was very thin because he ran all the time,” said Robert.
“They used to pin us against each other for everything,” said Robert.
Anthony chimed in without missing a beat, “Of course, I won.”
“It’s funny, because (the drill sergeants) tried to prove which one of us was better, so his drill sergeant would come over and mess with me and mine would go and mess with him,” said Robert. “So I’d get smoked by his drill sergeant more than he would and he’d get smoked by mine.”
This competition was nothing new to the twins.
“We’ve always competed, our whole lives,” said Robert.
Now that they are both in the Army, that sibling rivalry still runs strong.
“I’m trying to get promoted to E5 (sergeant) quicker than him,” said Anthony. “And it’s going to happen.”
“It’s not going to happen,” said Robert.
“Trust me, it’s going to happen,” said Anthony.
“We have the same amount of promotion points, which isn’t much,” said Robert.
“We’re still the same, but I’m trying to get to (Warrior Leader Course) before him,” said Anthony.
While they continue to compete with each other, they are also very close and take care of each other.
“We have each other’s backs,” said Anthony.
“We both have things we don’t do by ourselves,” said Robert.
“Yeah, I need his help for a lot of things, he needs my help,” said Anthony. “Partnership.”
While it is always nice to have a buddy, the twins are not always thankful for each other.
“If one of us is in trouble, sometimes they have the tendency to lump us together,” said Anthony. “One of us messes up, I don’t know if it’s the same face thing, they just get mad at both of us.”
“It’s never individual,” added Robert.
They are not only lumped together a lot, but they also are always high-visibility.
“We can’t keep a low profile anywhere,” said Robert. “We were in the same (Advanced Individual Training) and they would pull us out of line and say, ‘Hey! There’s twins here!’ and announce it to everybody.”
But the twins’ favorite thing to do is mess with people.
“I’ll sit where he’s sitting and see how long it takes for someone to notice it’s not him,” said Anthony. “Sometimes they pick up on it, sometimes it takes them a bit,”
“When we go to a party or anything like that, halfway though, say we’re wearing flannel shirts, we’ll switch flannels and just walk around,” said Robert. “When people approach me and say, ‘Hey, how’s it going Tony?’ I’ll pretend to get really angry and go, ‘Who are you?’ It’s funny to watch people react.”
Robert and Anthony share trouble and fun, and feel they have built a very strong bond.
“Sometime we say things in unison,” said Anthony. “I think it is that we spend so much time together, our thought process is the same and we talk alike.”
“That’s what I think that “twin telepathy” is,” said Robert. “I don’t think that’s real. I think it’s just we spend so much time together.”
“You know, you spend enough time with somebody, you pick up on their thought process,” said Anthony.