Husbands, wives deployed together

Master Sgt. Derrick D. Crawford
21st Theater Support Command

***image1***Three married couples were among the 80 or more Soldiers of the 574th Supply and Service Company which recently returned from a year-long deployment in Iraq. The Mannheim-based unit deployed to Logistics Support Area Anaconda north of Baghdad, where they did the dangerous job of transporting supplies to other units throughout their area of operation.

Sgt. Collin Marshall, a fuel handler married to Spc. Melissa Marshall, a supply specialist, said the stress of operating in a combat zone doubled knowing what they faced when out on a convoy. “I worked at the Baghdad International Airport on a fuel mission for two months away from my wife, and we were getting mortored constantly,” he explained. “When she first saw me after I rejoined the unit, tears just ran down her face. It felt great to know she cared so much about me.” The two were married in July 2003, months before deploying.

Not only did the couples endure an already challenging mission, but according to their company commander, they excelled in spite of their circumstances. “They are really good Soldiers who executed their missions,” said Capt. Natalie J. Rolling-Edlebeck, company commander.

Focusing on the mission at hand helped Spc. Angie Swanson, a petroleum specialist, block out her fears for her husband of more than a year, Spc. Joshua Swanson, also a petroleum specialist.

“You really don’t think about (your fears) once you are out there,” she said. “You’re just trying to concentrate on driving and getting to your next destination.”

The Swansons knew deployment was a possibility when first arriving in the unit upon completion of their initial entry training in 2003. The main company element had already deployed to Iraq months earlier.

What no one expected was for both to land in the same platoon. “In the beginning they wanted to put me in headquarters, but I
didn’t like that because I wanted to do my job,” said Specialist Angie Swanson.

It created a dilemma for the command as leaders weighed the needs of the unit and Soldiers. However, their attitude made it an easier decision for Captain Rolling-Edlebeck.

“Both Soldiers wanted to work in their (career field),” explained Captain Rolling-Edlebeck. “I did not want to discriminate against them because they are married, so I talked with the platoon leader. The platoon leader came back with the plan to put them in the same platoon. In the end, they were two of the best Soldiers we had in the fuel platoon.”

Specialist Joshua Swanson attributed their success to lessons of professionalism learned early in his young career.

“Once we proved that we could work together, they were OK. They were surprised at how we acted while at work. Many people said they didn’t even realize we were married until we told them,” he said. “We knew from the very beginning because we both are in the Army, you have to separate home and work.

“You don’t think: ‘That’s my wife over there.’ I just looked at her like another Soldier. You’re really focusing on your job. When you complete the mission, then you do think about it.”

Now that they’ve made it home safely after completing eight months of the deployment, Specialists Joshua and Angie Swanson simply want to get back to living a “regular” married life.