Double duty: Brothers awarded Air Force pilot training positions
The fledgling U.S. Air Force careers of brothers Cameron and Evan Dunker are off to a flying start.
The “socially identical” but biologically fraternal twin brothers from Aiken, S.C., were recently awarded slots in undergraduate pilot training when they graduate next May from Clemson University’s Air Force ROTC program as second lieutenants.
The 23-year-olds were recently presented their cadet pilot wings at a surprise announcement in their classroom by Col. Keith Balts, commander of Detachment 770. The colonel set up a conference call with the twins’ mother when he informed her sons of their pilot selection. Cameron and Evan were two of seven cadets in the 2017-18 class of commissioned officers who received pilot slots.
“These are fine young men and a good example of the kind of cadets that come out of Clemson year in and out,” Balts said. “The 2018 class of twenty-eight commissioned officers will have a minimum of twelve in rated, or flying-related, positions such as pilots, combat systems officers, etc. And, nearly all of the twenty eight cadets received one of their top three assignment choices, with well over half receiving their first choice.”
Big brother Cameron, born minutes before Evan, is a parks, recreation and tourism management major and Evan is majoring in civil engineering. Their decision to choose Clemson and a military-based education, which is housed in the College of Business, can be linked to family and a strong belief in serving.
“Our mother, who is a teacher, and sister both went to Clemson, and my father became a Clemson fan as a result, so we sort of grew up around it. I guess Clemson chose us,” Cameron said. “When you add in that Evan wanted to be in engineering, Clemson became a natural choice.”
Regarding their decision to pursue a military track at Clemson, Evan said there was no family pressure to do so, but added their father served in the Navy and both grandfathers are Army veterans.
“I’d given some thought about the military as a senior in high school, so I was in the program here since my freshman year,” Evan said. “Cameron, didn’t decide until his senior year, so he’s on an accelerated schedule to finish the program’s requirements in two years.
“As much as anything, I think the decision to serve is rooted in our strong Christian beliefs and sacrificing to serve others. We also believe it’s important to stand up to defend our rights and freedoms, that many take for granted. We think our decision to serve was the right choice.”
Though Cameron and Evan say most of their interests are identical, the twins don’t mirror one another in all aspects of their lives. Some of their food choices differ, but in general their life choices and beliefs aren’t far apart.
“We frequently will challenge one another on our beliefs, but it’s done in a healthy way and we end up realizing how much we really think alike,” Evan said. “But we aren’t hesitant about speaking our minds to one another and we do push each other to succeed in whatever the endeavor is.”
In December, the Air Force will hand down the cadets’ first duty locations to go with their recent specialty assignments, but the Dunkers have one more significant hurdle to clear before getting into pilot training. They need to meet flight-specific medical requirements such as sight, hearing, height and weight. After graduation it is uncertain how long it will take for the Air Force to relocate them to their training facilities, but will likely be within six to nine months of graduation and commissioning.
Even though the type of aircraft cockpit Evan and Cameron will train in hasn’t been determined, they are very certain of the value of their military academic track and the decision to attend Clemson.
“The sense of family that everyone talks about at Clemson extends into the ROTC program. People here sincerely care about you and want you to succeed,” Cameron said. “Our military education has taught us a lot about leadership but also values. We’ve learned the value and satisfaction of achieving goals, but also that greater value and reward can come in the sacrifice of one’s time, or life, for others.”
# # #