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Military

By Army 1st Lt. Joshua Farmer

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Like Two Ships
(May 19, 2011)

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CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq (5/15/2011) – The Army brought Amy Hanson and Kris Acu�a together. Then the Army took them apart. Last month, it reunited them. Next month, it will divide them again. Marriage, as it turns out, can be strong – or, it can be Army strong.
Spc. Amy Acu�a, a paralegal with the 275th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 77th Sustainment Brigade, 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command and a native of Sierra Vista, Ariz., and Sgt. Kris Acu�a, a multichannel systems transmission operator with the 40th Signal Battalion, take care of everyday duties together, such as taking clothes to the laundry facility as pictured here, at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq on May 3, 2011.
Spc. Amy Acu�a, a paralegal with the 275th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 77th Sustainment Brigade, 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command and a native of Sierra Vista, Ariz., and Sgt. Kris Acu�a, a multichannel systems transmission operator with the 40th Signal Battalion, take care of everyday duties together, such as taking clothes to the laundry facility as pictured here, at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq on May 3, 2011.
Sgt. Kris Acu�a, a multichannel systems transmission operator with the 40th Signal Battalion, met Spc. Amy Hanson, a paralegal with the 275th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 77th Sustainment Brigade, 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command and a native of Sierra Vista, Ariz., when his unit stationed him at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.

Falling in love was the easy part. The hard part was just beginning.

“I knew he was going when I married him,” Spc. Acu�a said.

“I've been in long enough that I was prepared for disappointment,” Sgt. Acu�a said.

Sgt. Acu�a left for Iraq last June. Earlier this year, he ended up in Tikrit at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, where he was told he would finish his deployment. He still had six months left, but it already felt like the home stretch. That's about the time his wife called.
Spc. Acu�a had been cross-leveled, or picked up by another Reserve unit for deployment. She would be in Afghanistan by spring.

Two soldiers, two deployments. All said, the Acu�as were looking at nearly two years of separation.

“The time apart was going to be longer than the time we've been together,” Spc. Acu�a said. “I just didn't know, realistically, when I would see him again. It was frustrating, but duty calls.”

Over the next few weeks, duty called two more times. First the good news: Spc. Acu�a's new unit wasn't going anywhere. The deployment was off. Shortly after, the bad news came.

Acu�a had been cross-leveled again. This time, it would be Iraq. That call came from Capt. Dassie Jones, commander of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company for the 275th CSSB at Fort Lee, Va.

Their conversation was short, but it was long enough for Jones to learn a little about the Acu�as and their struggle. It was also long enough for him to hang a silver lining on their cloud: the 275th CSSB was going to COB Speicher, and they would be there three months before the 40th Signal Battalion was scheduled to leave.

“I thought it was an unbelievable coincidence,” Jones said.

There was no hesitation. Jones began meeting with the members of the battalion leadership. He sought out Sgt. Acu�a's company commander. Their request to allow the Acu�as to live together on COB Speicher was approved.

“I didn't have any concerns,” said Jones, “because I knew that we were doing right by the soldiers.”
The 275th CSSB chaplain couldn't agree more.

“It's a shame this isn't more common,” said Capt. Stephen Thurnau, a chaplain with the 275th CSSB who left his congregation in North Carolina to join the unit at COB Speicher.

“How much easier would it be to get people to reenlist if everyone knew they could leave home without completely leaving their spouse?” Thurnau said.

He said a deployment, however, can put a strain on any relationship.

Two years ago, the Acu�as probably never thought their second home would be a metal box in the middle of the desert.

“It's awesome, being able to come home from work and know I'll be able to see her,” said Sgt. Acu�a. “It's something you never expect going into a deployment. It's a reality check every morning.”

For the Acu�as, it's a reality check that only lasts about 90 days. Reality itself sets in sometime this summer. But it's a deal Spc. Acu�a says she'd take every time.

Article and photo by Army 1st Lt. Joshua Farmer
310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command
Copyright 2011

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