While attending Southern Regional High School in Manahawkin, N.J., Pfcs. Tyler Sladen and Everett Giberson, lived only minutes apart and became best friends.
The 21-year-old tankers are now assigned to “Crazyhorse” Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division and also serve on the same tank crew.
Throughout high school, the friends discussed the option of joining the military, but never decided to enlist together.
Graduating in 2011, the two soldiers didn’t leave for basic combat training until 2012.
Sladen, a driver, enlisted first and left in March 2012. He chose to be a tanker because the job sounded more appealing to him than an unmanned aerial vehicle operator.
While going through the enlistment process, Giberson, a loader, asked Sladen which job he should choose. Sladen recommended he enlist as a tanker. Six months later in September, Giberson left for basic training to do just that.
Joining an organization of more than 500,000 active duty personnel, the two never thought they would end up being assigned together.
“(Giberson) sent me a letter from basic training telling me he got 1st Cav,” Sladen said. “We were pretty stoked.”
Not only were they excited about their upcoming reunion, but Giberson said their families were glad they would be together again.
After graduating basic training in December 2012, Giberson went home and reunited with Sladen over Christmas, and the two flew into Fort Hood together.
After in-processing, Giberson received orders to the battalion.
“I wasn’t expecting to hear he would be coming (to Crazyhorse),” Sladen said. “I was pretty excited.”
Even more remarkably, the two now find themselves serving on the same tank crew while Crazyhorse conducts gunnery operations.
“We didn’t request it or expect to be on the same crew,” Gibson said.
Their friendship doesn’t end at work.
“It isn’t uncommon to see us neck-deep in water fishing or hunting,” Sladen said.
Neither Giberson nor Sladen have deployed, but are looking forward to their battalion’s mission as part of the Ironhorse Brigade’s regional alignment with the U.S. European Command.
Giberson and Sladen plan to re-enlist to keep their friendship intact. Their goal: Hawaii.