Charlie and Tae Willis found each other in the most unexpected place. Both active duty in the Coast Guard, Tae was lost at her new duty station in Hawaii — like, literally lost. Charlie, being the gentleman that he was, helped her get where she was going. The rest is history. They were married not long after.
Both are operations specialists who say they love their jobs. Their roles require them to provide around the clock command, control, communications, planning, and response to emergent events like search and rescue, pollution, or other serious maritime incidents.
Their Coast Guard careers brought them to Virginia after they were married, and they say they held off on having children right away.
“We wanted to wait, love on each other, and travel a bit first,” Tae said.
A few years later, when they were ready to add a child to the mix, they got two.
The first set of Willis twins, Aria and Bryson, were born on December 12, 2019. Though it was a surprise for them, it wasn’t completely unexpected.
“Twins do run in our families. I have an aunt and uncle who are twins,” Charlie explained.
He jokingly blamed Tae for the multitude of babies because she kept telling him she wanted to have two children before they left Virginia for a new duty station.
“I told her you weren’t specific in your prayer,” Charlie laughed, adding he takes some of the blame too because he always wanted four children in all. “I guess I wasn’t specific enough in my prayers either. I’m just going to stop saying anything at all.”
This is because three months after their babies were born, they found themselves pregnant again. Charlie shared that they were watching Netflix when he noticed his wife with a peculiar look on her face. He asked her what was wrong and she said “I’m late.”
“I said late for what? You aren’t working right now,” he said, laughing.
Tae was still on maternity leave from having Bryson and Aria. She was too scared to look at the home pregnancy test they took a little bit later, so he did.
“I was like, oh we are good. There’s a solid line and a faint line and she said, ‘wait, what?’ So, I looked at the box and realized what it meant and said are you kidding me!”
The shock and awe would keep coming when they made their way to the ultrasound room a month later. Two heartbeats were blinking back at them on that screen.
“The shock is funny. People would ask me when I was pregnant what I was having, and I’d say two boys. Then they’d say what did you have last time, and I’d tell them a boy and a girl. Their response is always ‘wait … what,’” Tae said through laughter.
She gets a lot of ‘wait, whats’ and ‘are you serious’ from most people she encounters.
One of the first things the Willises did was upgrade their car to a van. Cayden and Dakari, the second set of twins, were born on Nov. 18, 2020 — 11 months after their brother and sister. The babies’ names go in the order of the alphabet — yes, that was definitely on purpose.
“Life is tiresome — we don’t know the meaning of sleep anymore. But life is good,” Tae said. “We are new parents and doing it all over again … it’s been a little hectic in the house.”
Thankfully, the Willises said they have a lot of support from their friends and family. Both shared that the command and team they work with at their units have also been a big help as well.
So, what do the older siblings think of their new baby brothers? Not a whole lot, just yet.
“They mostly just stare at them and then they go on and play,” Tae said. Right after their new brothers were born, Bryson and Aria learned to walk.
Both Charlie and Tae will soon be returning to work. This will pose a bit of a challenge for the family in terms of childcare costs. The teams at both of their units realized this immediately and put their heads together to see how they could help the family. The U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association stepped in to do a fundraiser, and an Amazon wishlist was also created for those looking to support the family in any way. One thing always in need: diapers. Mountains of diapers.
While the couple said they aren’t positive another Coastie family doesn’t have double twins, they are pretty sure they win the award as the only dual-enlisted couple with double the love. Despite the challenges and lack of sleep, the Willis family counts their blessings — all four of them — every single day.