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Brothers in Arms

In 2006, twin brothers Robert and Matthew Shipp, of Hauser Lake, Idaho, enlisted in the U.S. Marines with dreams of serving their country in Iraq. Former staff writer James Hagengruber and photographer Brian Plonka chronicled the Shipp brothers’ stories through boot camp, deployment and service in Iraq and the Persian Gulf.

Brothers in Arms: Looking Back

It's been 18 months since The Spokesman-Review began following twin brothers Matt and Robert Shipp as they pursued their dream to join the Marines and fight for their country. Following is a look at previous installments in this series. For additional coverage, see spokesmanreview.com/sections/brothersinarms.

Two good men

A closed sign hung in the window of the little Coeur d'Alene barber shop when Matt and Robert Shipp arrived Tuesday afternoon, a day after returning home from boot camp. Although their hair was barely longer than toothbrush bristles, the 18-year-old twin brothers from Hauser Lake needed a trim. Not just any trim, but the trademark "high and tight" buzz cuts worn by U.S. Marines.

Weary campers

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Robert Shipp died twice at boot camp Wednesday. Once was during a training exercise that had him swinging by a rope while wearing a gas mask.

Corps Experience

SAN DIEGO – Matt and Robert Shipp struggled to stay alert Tuesday morning, their first morning at Marine boot camp. The twins from Hauser Lake, Idaho, had already gone 30 hours without sleep and would need to muster the energy to last another 12 hours before any rest would be permitted. Their eyes were bleary. Their heads were still tinged red from being shaved bald hours earlier, shortly after arriving at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. Snarling drill instructors walked the room at the recruit processing center. Shouts flew through the air and echoed down the hallways of the building.

Brothers in arms

HAUSER LAKE, Idaho – The countdown is over. Robert and Matt Shipp's childhood ends today. The identical-twin brothers will be picked up from their parents' home this afternoon by a U.S. Marine, who will drive the 18-year-olds away from the forest and the lake that have been their playground for as long as they can remember.

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