Triplets Called To Active Duty

The Early Show, from left to right: Christina, Jessica and Melissa Buchanan
CBS/The Early Show
Cristina, Jessica and Melissa Buchanan are identical 19-year-old triplets from Blountstown, Fla., who joined the National Guard and have just been called to active duty.

They are leaving to go to Ft. Stewart, Ga., for training and from there, they will go overseas.

Holding the hands of her sisters with a tight grip, Pvt. Jessica Buchanan told The Early Show's Harry Smith why the three are in the military.

"When it was my idea to join," she said, "I wasn't going to do it by myself, so I just kind of told them they had to go with me or I wasn't going to do it at all. And they were willing to go with me, sir."

Jessica is the middle sister of the triplets, each born a minute apart on Dec. 29, 1983.

Military officials have been cautious about putting siblings in the same combat unit since the Sullivan brothers from Waterloo, Iowa, died after their ship, the Navy cruiser USS Juneau, was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in 1942. That was among the incidents that inspired director Steven Spielberg to make the movie "Saving Private Ryan."

But Cristina Buchanan said the trio is staying together: "They'd have had a hard time getting us split up anyway."

The triplets joined the reserves shortly after turning 17, when there was no sign of war on the horizon. "We had had this class in my school and a recruiter came and told us about the National Guard," Jessica said. "And the National Guard in the state of Florida offers 100 percent tuition. So that was our main reason why we joined the National Guard. But it was a great experience for us and a good opportunity for anyone to join up."

Standing at about 5-foot-3 and weighing 110 pounds, the triplets are trained to haul supplies to be used on the front line. "Our unit specializes in transportation," Melissa explained. She is best at physical training, Jessica pointed out.

While Jessica is best at handling weapons. "I know I'm not the best at driving. But I certainly do try hard at it," she said.

Now that they know they are leaving Florida, Melissa said, "We're just real excited. Kind of nervous about not knowing where we're going or where we'll end up. But we're just excited and ready to do our jobs."