In light of Ryley's death last week while serving as a Navy hospital corpsman as part of a Marine Expeditionary Force in Afghanistan, the News-Times staff thought it appropriate to run a portion of the story again.
In the spring of last year, reporter Olivia Siulagi spent three weeks following a half-dozen members of Forest Grove High School's Class of 2010 as part of her senior project at Catlin Gabel, a private K-12 school near Cedar Hills. Coincidentally, one of her subjects was Wyatt Gallinger, twin brother of Ryley Gallinger-Long. At the time, both lived in Cornelius. Wyatt Gallinger, who is now in the U.S. Navy, lives in Illinois. In light of Ryley's death last week while serving as a Navy hospital corpsman as part of a Marine Expeditionary Force in Afghanistan, the News-Times staff thought it appropriate to run a portion of the story again.
So, as karma tends to go, I accidentally wake Wyatt up an hour early on his senior skip day. It's raining outside, I've been searching for his house for 15 minutes and I have two very large, very painful blisters on my right foot.
Like the good sport that he is, Wyatt gets up and greets me at their red door. He and his brother are boyishly handsome in a wholesome, American way, and thankfully, he doesn't look at all cranky.
After I apologize profusely, I sit down on his black leather couch and we begin.
Ryley and Wyatt Gallinger are identical twins who have lived in Cornelius all their lives. Their mother works in the mortgage department at Wells Fargo, and their father, like so many others in the downturn, is currently unemployed. They have one older brother who owns a landscaping business, where Wyatt works.
'It's hard work, but at the end of the day you feel like you've accomplished something,' Wyatt says, 'that's the kind of work I like.'
Ryley, on the other hand, works at McDonald's. Wyatt informs me that Ryley dislikes the customers' special orders, and can't wait until the building gets torn down in the summer because 'he hates it.'
A lot in common
Besides their difference in jobs, the two boys share a lot in common. From kindergarten to the fourth grade they had many of the same teachers.
For the most part, Wyatt tells me, 'his friends are my friends, and my friends are his.'
When I ask if people tend to think of them as a unit, he says they're usually perceived 'as individuals that travel together I guess, [although] people would say we're different.'
As for career plans, both boys plan on joining the Navy, something Wyatt has wanted to do all his life.
'Military was a must for me,' he says.
It's kind of a family tradition, he notes, telling me next that his grandfather was a gunnery sergeant in the Navy during World War II. During his service, a Kamikaze plane crashed into his vessel and severely damaged it, Wyatt adds. Thankfully though, it stayed afloat, and their grandfather escaped.
Though their father didn't follow in his footsteps, the Gallinger twins plan to - Ryley as a corpsman and Wyatt as a rescue swimmer.
Why a rescue swimmer? 'When I joined I figured I might as well be the best,' Wyatt explains. He chose that position because he could not become a Navy Seal with his bad eyesight.
Ryley wanted to be a firefighter when he was little, but he decided to become a corpsman, though at some point, Wyatt says, Ryley intends to become a firefighter for the Navy.
For the two boys training has already started. After school on Thursdays, they go to physical training where they learn what the Navy requires of them.
'Basic' starts on Aug. 10. 'I'm excited,' Wyatt tells me, 'I can't wait.'
Ryley's also excited, Wyatt adds. 'He loves it. He wants to go sooner than that,' he says.
He insists they are not afraid.
As I leave the house, I ask Wyatt what he plans to do with his high school senior skip day.
'I'm going fishing!' he exclaims.