SHALIMAR — On D-Day — June 6, 1944 — twins Melvin and Marvin McCain were two farm boys who were itching to get into the fight.
Unfortunately for them, the twins were not yet 18, and their parents were not inclined to allow them to ship off to war.
“We kept asking them to sign the paper so we could go, but they wouldn’t do it,” said Marvin. “But we kept pestering our daddy until he finally agreed to sign. He told us, 'OK, you’ve made your bed. Now go lie in it.' ”
When the twins’ mother learned what their father had done, she was not happy. In fact, she was furious.
“She squalled and fussed for months,” Melvin said with a laugh. “I don’t think she ever forgave him.”
'He pushed me out of the way'
Born and raised in Alabama, the McCains recently paid a visit to their nephew Harvey McCain and his family at their home in Poquito Bayou. During their visit, the 90-year-old brothers were feted by family and friends.
“These guys are our heroes,” said Harvey McCain. “We just love to sit around and listen to their stories.”
The twins were holding court on the McCains’ waterfront patio over the Memorial Day weekend, swapping stories and gently ribbing each other. When asked which one was older, Melvin explained that Marvin was the first born.
“He pushed me out of the way to get out first,” he said with a chuckle.
Growing up, Marvin said, the boys were forced to be "scrappers."
"We had to be," he explained. "People were always challenging me and my brother, so we had to fight them. If they took on one of us, they took on both of us."
Ironically, the twins got in trouble regardless of the outcome.
"Our momma would swat us for fighting, and our daddy would swat us if we didn't fight," Melvin added. "We got it both ways."
Identical, but different
While they are identical twins, the brothers had different ideas when it came to which branch of the military they wanted to join. Melvin heard that if you joined the Navy, you would see the world.
“I did, and I saw too much of it,” said the former Navy gunner, who served throughout the South Pacific and Indian oceans. “When we finally arrived in San Francisco after the war was over and my feet touched ground, I never wanted to get on a ship again!”
Marvin decided to join the Army for his own special reason.
“I figured I could walk better than I could swim, and I didn’t want to be fish bait,” he said with a smile.
Marvin, who served in Europe during World War II, liked the Army so much he ended up staying in for 33 years. His career took him all over the world.
Melvin, however, took a different path.
“When I got home to Alabama, I never wanted to leave,” he said in his Alabama drawl.
“I went to work for a mill and was a supervisor over eight warehouses.”
Despite their different career paths, the brothers both raised families and remained close over the years. Marvin had three children, while Melvin had four.
“I’ve got four bosses. I used to have five,” said Melvin, referring to his late wife as the fifth.
“Then I’ve got this bunch,” he added, waving his hand in the direction of the various nieces and nephews who had gathered around the twins. “They’re my deputy bosses.”
These days, the brothers live together in a trailer on Melvin’s daughter’s property. They get along just fine, Marvin said.
“When we’re not sitting in the trailer watching TV, we sit on the porch and watch the cars go by,” Marvin said.
Melvin still drives the Lincoln that they share up to Jack’s, “a fast food joint” where they like to get hamburgers. When it’s Marvin’s turn to cook, he relies on stand-bys like frozen pot pies and TV dinners.
During their visit with their family members, the brothers each donned caps touting their particular branch of the service. Harvey McCain’s wife, Jody, looked on and smiled as the twin 90-year-olds continued to make their family laugh with their antics.
“We are so blessed to be able to have them here,” she said. “They just continue to amaze me.”