FORT JACKSON, S.C., Oct. 24, 2011 – 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.
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.