News: Married couple overcomes deployment separation
Story by 1st Lt. Alun Thomas
FORT HOOD, Texas – For married couples stationed in the same unit a deployment could be viewed as a positive event, with the probability of being together for the duration of the tour helping boost morale.
For newly married Sgt. Cornelius Green and Sgt. Ardreanna Green of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, this scenario didn’t play out as anticipated when the brigade deployed to Afghanistan in 2011, as the pair were separated from each other despite being in the same battalion.
Despite this unexpected obstacle, the couple overcame the hurdle and maintained their commitment to each other, strengthening their bond in the process.
The path that led the couple together began in 2010, when both were assigned to Fort Hood, their first meeting being at reception, said Ardreanna, from Atlanta, a chemical specialist for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st ACB, 1st Cavalry Division.
“He offered to give me a ride one day and from there we became friends, just a hello and goodbye sort of thing,” Ardreanna said. “Then by coincidence we were both assigned to the same battalion.”
Cornelius, from Memphis, a truck driver for Company E, 3-227th AHB, 1st ACB, said their relationship developed at a singles retreat held by the brigade.
“We played checkers together and talked about the five languages of love, which helped bring us closer,” Cornelius grinned. “Her attitude was so positive and enjoyable that it made me fall for her.”
The feeling was mutual from Ardreanna, who said the drive exhibited by Cornelius in his everyday activities won her over, which resulted in the couple’s marriage on April 14, 2011, just as the brigade was about to deploy to Afghanistan for a year.
Unfortunately once they deployed Cornelius had his job position changed to a fueler, which meant being sent to remote bases throughout the country, leaving Ardreanna at Forward Operating Base Shindand – alone.
“It was hard, especially because I’m such a family oriented person,” Ardreanna said. “I thought if I’m here in the same country with my own husband, why can’t we stay together?”
“We were so close but so far away,” added Cornelius.
“At least the deployment was in the same timeframe,” he continued. “It would have been a lot worse if one of us had deployed after the other in different years.”
The couple talked to each other on the phone as much as they could, but Ardreanna said it just wasn’t the same.
“It was a strange way to spend our first year of marriage together. It’s only since we redeployed that we feel this is our first proper year together,” she said.
“Cornelius is a man’s man and wouldn’t show much emotion at being apart, but I’m the type that would cry and scream ‘why can’t we be together!’” Ardreanna joked.
The couple occupied their time apart by taking courses at the schools on their bases, which Cornelius admitted was an incentive to excel.
“I completed my associates degree in general studies and Ardreanna was one class short of finishing hers in the same field,” Cornelius said. “Now I’m just 12 classes from getting my bachelors degree.”
Despite their distance, the couple was allowed to see each other on special occasions, such as birthdays and Christmas, Ardreanna said, along with mid-tour leave.
“We went to each other’s hometowns on leave and in the month before we redeployed Cornelius came back to Shindand, so we were able to travel back home together,” she said. “My first sergeant understood the strain of the situation and tried to let me see Cornelius as much as possible.”
After a hard day’s work there would have been nothing better than being able to relax with his wife and relieve some stress, Cornelius said.
“Just to do something simple like eating together or having ice cream would have made all the difference,” he explained.
But after having returned home the memories of the deployment were stored away, with both Cornelius and Ardreanna looking ahead to the next possible rotation.
“We both want new experiences and for Cornelius this has been his only duty station, but I’ve been to Korea, so it’s time for him to see something new,” Ardreanna said. “First though we want to deploy again and this time we hope to be together.”
But having successfully navigated through the first time apart, the second time shouldn’t be an issue, she said.
“If we can survive that, we can survive anything,” Ardreanna said with a smile.