BAY OF BENGAL, Bangladesh --
Growing up in Dayton, OH, Seth and Josh were your typical fraternal twins, leading a typical life in a typical American town. They played the same sports, often on the same team all through high school. They were very much alike but different enough that they never fell for the same type of girl. Seth, who was born seven minutes before Josh, was known as being a bit more impulsive and more of a “wild child,” while Josh was a little more laid back.
After high school the two parted ways for the first time. Josh went to college but Seth knew that academic life wasn’t for him. So he decided to trade in his typical life for one of adventure and travel by following his older brother Brent into the Corps. Brent served eight years in the Marine Corps and used to come home with stories that captured Seth and Josh’s imagination and made life in Dayton seem, well… typical. Josh felt the same and joined the Marines one year later.
More than14 years later, with four combat tours and a Bronze Star Medal under his belt, a shaved head and enough tattoos to make higher headquarters look twice, Staff Sgt. Seth M. Vance stood in front of his younger brother Maj. Joshua M. Vance aboard an amphibious attack ship during a humanitarian operation in Bangladesh.
Maj. Vance, now a combat veteran and a KC 130 Hercules pilot, is the assistant air officer for III Marine Expeditionary Brigade. He is also currently in Bangladesh coordinating air missions during the humanitarian assistance effort. Maj. Vance first came into the Marine Corps Reserve as an 81 mm mortarman and became a corporal, something he is very proud of. He went on to attend the Platoon Leaders Course at Bowling Green University, in Bowling Green, Ohio, and earned his commission.
“We’ve come along way from Dayton,” said Staff Sgt. Vance, tactical communications chief, 1st Platoon, Company A, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion. Alpha One, as it is known by the recon community, is part of the 1st Marine Division but currently attached to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), Camp Pendleton, Calif.
“We haven’t seen each other in almost two years,” said Staff Sgt. Vance “and only three times in the last five,” said his brother, completing his sentence. “So we have plenty to talk about,” said Staff Sgt. Vance, standing alone with his brother in a room known as the flag plot with large windows with a commanding view of the bay.
But unfortunately, time is not on their side. Outside the room, and on the shore where Maj. Vance works, Marines and Sailors are coordinating relief missions to local villages and flights to the shore. The brothers are told to make the visit quick because Maj. Vance has only a couple of hours to catch his flight back to work.
“We’re used to it,” said Staff Sgt. Vance, talking about their expeditionary lifestyle. It’s the life they chose, and each said they were perfectly happy with it. Even though they have often been at different ends of the earth, “we both make it a point to be there for each other at important times in our lives,” said Staff Sgt. Vance.
“I gave him his first ‘silver dollar salute’ when he became an officer,” said Staff Sgt. Vance, regarding the custom of an officer giving a silver dollar to the first person who renders him or her a salute. “I am very proud of him and that day,” he said. “I still have that dollar. It’s framed and hanging on my wall.”
“I was there for his promotion to staff sergeant and two of his reenlistments,” said Maj. Vance and when the time comes, he’ll try to be there for his brother when he gets promoted to gunnery sergeant.
According to Vance, since joining the Corps, they have lived parallel lives that have come together and intersected sporadically like a figure eight or that DNA strand that has defined them since birth.
“Now that we’re a hell of a lot older, I think we appreciate each other and the visits more,” said Staff Sgt. Vance. “Especially when they’re only a couple of hours long.”