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    'All's not fair in love, war'

    All is not fair in love and war

    Courtesy Photo | Pfc. Amanda La Rue, Battery A, 1st Battalion, 41st Field Artillery and Spc. Jean-Paul...... read more read more

    Spc. Ricardo Branch
    1st Birgade Combat Team, Public Affairs

    CAMP RAMADI, Iraq – When Spc. Jean-Paul La Rue's brigade arrived to Iraq earlier this year; he knew this deployment was going to be different – this time he's married and his wife is deployed with him.

    Jean-Paul, 24, of Woodbury, N.J., has been in the Army for almost five years, and he didn't expect that when he met Pvt. Amanda Thomas that they'd be married later that year.

    "We were in the same platoon back at Fort Stewart, Ga.," he said. "I never even talked to her until we met through a friend and started hanging out."

    Back then, Amanda arrived as a new Soldier to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade Troops Battalion, and Jean-Paul was part of the older crowd. It was by pure chance that one of her first friends in the unit was one of Jean-Paul's friends as well.

    "She was the one who introduced us," Amanda said. "Back then everyone had their little cliques, and we were in one together. We all started watching movies, playing cards and hanging out on the weekends."

    Amanda, 20, of Lawton, Okla., who was in a bad relationship at the time, then began to confide in Jean-Paul and knew back then that he was the one.

    "I think I started having feelings for him a few days before he had them for me," she said. "We never officially did the whole 'will you go out with me' thing."

    The moment that did it for the La Rues was when Amanda wanted to see the sunset away from Fort Stewart, so they drove to Tybee Island, Ga., to watch the sunset from the beach.

    "I drove there as quickly as I could, but by the time I got there, the sun was already setting over the horizon," Jean-Paul said. "We watched it set and ended up walking along the beach that night."

    The couple then decided a few months later to get married before the brigade returned to Iraq. They were officially married in a courthouse Oct. 16, 2006 but they are planning their ceremony wedding when they return.

    "The choice to get married prior to deployment was an equal feeling," Jean-Paul said. "We wanted to get married now rather than wait and something possibly happen to one of us, which then would stop us from being together."

    Although they didn't have family witness their marriage, the in-laws of both La Rues were happy and look forward to attending the formal ceremony next year.

    "My mother figured it was going to happen," said Jean-Paul. "Even though she was happy for us, she wished she could have been there."

    "At first my parents didn't know," Amanda said. "I wanted them to find out in a ceremony but my brother secretly told them. My mom then asked to see my identification cards and when she looked at my drivers license she asked, 'Why didn't you change you name yet?' My parents were still very happy though."

    Now the La Rues are deployed in Ramadi, Iraq, and although life's hard, they still try to see each other daily. They eat meals, hangout, watch movies and spend as much free time as they can with each other.

    "I try to be with my wife as often as I can on my off time," Jean-Paul said. "Sometimes I don't see her, so I'll shoot her an e-mail. When I get off, I'll stop at her company and see what she's doing. If it's in the middle of her shift, we go to lunch. If she's busy, I'll sit and wait for her, and we'll have a smoke together."

    A mile separates their living areas, and Jean-Paul makes that walk almost every night to spend time with his wife.

    "My priorities are to get back, offload the truck, and get it prepared for the next mission," he said. "After that, I do whatever ... I need to do and see my wife."

    Separating married life from professional work is one of several issues making deploying to Iraq with a spouse no honeymoon. Friendly taunting from coworkers aside, the La Rues said they struggle to balance married life with the rigors of deployment.

    "We see each other and then we don't because of the opposite shifts we work," Jean-Paul said. "It's added stress having to worry about her being here along with myself. She's aware how dangerous my job is, but the more you think, the more you worry about it. She's my wife though so it's natural for her to worry – it comes with the territory."

    Jean Paul's mission is to escort explosive ordinance disposal troops around Ramadi, which puts him at risk. Many Soldiers on that job often wonder how family back home would deal with a fatality. For him, it's harder since his wife is a lot closer.

    "She's here," he said. "So I think if something happens to me, how she's going to react and handle it without me around? Not everyone has the opportunity to say they are deployed with their wife, but it's nothing to look at as a good thing. Personally, I wish she was back in the states, and I was the only one here."

    Despite any problems the deployment might bring, they both agree about one thing.

    "At least we can still see one another," Amanda said. "Our conversations are face to face versus over the phone. This keeps us from growing apart."

    She added, "We can talk about our issues and gripes and help each other through hard times because when you look your spouse in the eye, and know he's having a bad day, at least you're there to help him."



    Date Taken: 06.18.2007
    Date Posted: 06.19.2007 07:55
    Story ID: 10895
    Location: RAMADI, IQ 

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