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News | Dec. 20, 2022

Twins have each other's backs

By Tech. Sgt. Charles Johnston

Senior Airmen Olivia and Gillian Conley enjoy an extra holiday every December.

National Twin Day, in observance since 2019, gave the fraternal twin sisters occasion to reflect on their special relationship last Sunday.

“We love an excuse to have a holiday, so it’s definitely something we will celebrate,” said Gillian, the youngest by a minute.

They joined the New Hampshire Air National Guard fresh out of high school in 2017, trained together at basic and were roommates at tech school.

“We’ve been with each other since we were in the womb,” Olivia said.

Following in their father’s footsteps, a former maintainer at Pease Air National Guard Base, the Conleys served there until Olivia’s recent transfer to Connecticut for an Air Guard recruiting position.

“It’s definitely been an adjustment period,” said Gillian, a respiratory therapist with the 157th Air Refueling Wing. “I feel like I lost my other half.”

Though separated for the first time, their military bond endures.

“As long as we do it together, it’s more motivating for each other,” Olivia said.

Before branching off to different bases, the two were never mistaken for one another on drill weekends--a work hazard for many identical and fraternal twins. They don’t really look alike. And if not for sharing a last name, they suspect most people wouldn’t even realize they’re related.

Some obvious differences are Gillian is brunette, Olivia is blonde and noticeably taller. And though they do share common interests, there are subtle contrasts. They both like downhill skiing, for example, though Gillian changed to snowboarding. Olivia is still making the change, despite Gillian's copycat accusations.

“I was born first, so you’re copying me,” Olivia clarified.

In the spirit of National Twin Day, they observed the holiday by fielding a few “twin questions” via video conference—Olivia from her Connecticut recruiting office and Gillian from her medical group at Pease.
Do you have twin ESP?

Olivia: For sure, we definitely do. Somebody will say something, we look at each other and read each other’s minds. I can already tell what she has to say about it or what she’s thinking about it just by giving each other a look.

Gillian: It’s like a little smirk or something. I can’t really describe the look, but I know exactly what she’s talking about.

Who is smartest?

Gillian: I am.
Olivia: That is not true!
Gillian: Yes, it is. I always had better grades at school. I am definitely the smartest one.
Olivia: We’re smart in our own ways. I think I’m more military smart than Gillian is.
Gillian: I would disagree.

Best looking?

Gillian: It’s Olivia.
Olivia: It’s blondes or brunettes. It’s your own preference.

Most physically fit?

Olivia: Gillian is.
Gillian: I am. Like, two whole minutes faster.
Olivia: I would not say that. My last fitness test was pretty good.
Gillian: But you still haven’t beat my fastest, a 9:46 mile and a half. I think I’m probably better at push-ups, but Olivia is better at sit-ups.

The playful Q&A revealed a sibling rivalry they admit leads to heated disagreements. They said they only last a few minutes, however, because it’s impossible to stay mad at each other for long.

“I love that she has my back no matter what,” Gillian explained. “I couldn’t imagine my life without her.”

“We’re best friends,” Olivia said.