Soldiers often head into military service as strangers and return bonded like siblings. Then there’s Col. Robb Mitchell ’94 LAS, MS ’05 UIC, and Col. Todd Mitchell, ’95 LAS, who are identical twins on what Robb calls “parallel but separate paths” through lifelong military careers.
The Mitchells grew up on a farm in Mason City, Ill., then moved to Springfield at age 11. Both joined the National Guard in high school, following their father, who had served in the Army Reserves.
When Robb started at Illinois, Todd, seeking to differentiate himself, headed to Southern Illinois University–Carbondale. However, their separation was short-lived. Though it wasn’t planned, they ended up leaping out of the same plane at the U.S. Army Airborne School at Fort Benning in 1991. Two years later, Todd transferred to join Robb at Illinois.
Post-graduation, both entered active duty as field artillery officers. “We’ve been in a lot of the same places, but not necessarily at the same time,” Todd says. Robb first went to South Korea, then did a long tour in Germany. Todd went to South Korea after Robb returned, then after 9/11, preceded his brother to Iraq, then Afghanistan.
Robb joined him at the Pentagon, helping the Army develop next-generation equipment. His background—he earned a master’s in American history from UIC—gives him context to strategize for the future. Todd, meanwhile, just moved to Germany as director of the Army’s 1st Human Resources Sustainment Center.
Time and distance haven’t weakened their bond; the they still talk and email often. “We have goals in life,” Todd says. “You can see the mirror image of yourself.”