News: National Guard company builds and maintains strong relationships
Story by Staff Sgt. Kimberly Calkins
AL ASAD AIRBASE, Iraq — One of the fundamentals of the 138th Quartermaster Support Co., from Brazil, Ind., under the 751st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade is relationships. This small midwestern homegrown unit has a rich history of it. We have Brazil, Ind., native, Master Sgt. Randall Knox who has been in the same unit for nearly 40 years and has mentored and developed friendships with countless Soldiers. Other relationships include father and son combinations, with at least eight to include Sgt. 1st Class Neil Brown, from Brazil, Ind. and his dad, Thomas Brown, who retired as a first sergeant in 2000. We also have had many "band of brothers", a recollection of a minimum of seven. One memorable brotherly team was the Martin trio from Brazil, Ind.: Staff Sgt. Randall Martin, Staff Sgt. Anthony Martin, and previously in the unit, Senior Airman Michael Martin, who currently serves in the 181st Fighter Wing, Indiana Air Guard. At one time the three brothers all served together in the 138th. Last but not least, there is the flourishing of relationships in the Soldiers of the 138th QM Spt. Co. between the 10 married couples that serve together in this unit.
Of these 10 married couples, seven of the couples met while serving together in the Indiana Army National Guard. The trend began in 2003, with Sgt. Jamie Raulston and Staff Sgt. Shilo Raulston, from Cory, Ind. They met on their first deployment, stationed at Camp Atterbury providing transportation support for mobilizing Soldiers. He was the driver and she was the assistant driver, while transporting Soldiers to and from the airport. As Staff Sgt. Raulston would tell it, "she stole my blanket, changed the radio station, and has made decisions for me ever since." At the time they were both Specialists and the 138th QM was Bravo Company, a transportation company with the 38th Main Support Battalion. Their relationship grew regardless of the teasing and warnings of fellow Guardsmen and by 2004, they were engaged and preparing to marry after the stateside active duty they shared. Our current deployment is the Raulston's third deployment together; where we have watched the two grow in rank and leadership as well into a family of three. Their daughter, Evee, just celebrated her second birthday while the Raulstons were on leave.
Many long days during pre-deployment training gave Spc. Ira Fisk and Spc. Rebecca Fisk an opportunity to get to know one another. Coming from two different units and merging as one in the 138th, a military relationship is all they have ever known. Spc. Rebecca Fisk is the paralegal for the unit and she sees how being apart from one's spouse can take a toll on marriages. She believes, "it's better to deploy together, unless children are involved, then it may be more beneficial for one parent to stay home."
Although they currently are not parents but are planning for the future, Spc. Brian Michael of Clay City, Ind., and Spc. Jamie Michael of, Terre Haute, Ind., agree that deploying together has made their marriage stronger. They met during the pre-Soldier Readiness Program while at Camp Atterbury and were married just prior to the pre-mobilization training. Even though the first few months were stressful, the Michael's enjoy being deployed together "because it makes the time go faster being with the one you love."
Prior to all of the pre-mobilization training, the 138th QM Spt. Co. had the opportunity to assist the families of Indiana with flood relief during Operation Noah's Ark in June 2008. Sgt. Shannan McGee and Spc. Travis McGee, of Terre Haute, Ind. as well as Sgt. Brandy Brunett and Sgt. Nick Brunett from Brazil, Ind. all met their future spouses during this mission. Who ever thought that love would be found in a mountain of sandbags? Sometimes in the course of helping others in a time of need brings out the best in people, something recognizably unique when looking for that special someone.
Finding that special someone during drill weekend was the case for Spc. Cari Williams and Sgt. David Williams of Terre Haute, Ind. Even though they have four sons between them, the Williams' decided to deploy together "to give our family a good financial start," states Spc. Williams. Although it is hard for this couple to be away from their sons, they are glad they are experiencing this deployment together and are thankful for the strong family support back home.
Appreciating home and what you have is one of the things Columbus, Ind. natives Spc. Jennifer Benton and Spc. Richard Benton have learned as a deployed married couple. Although their stars did not align during drill weekend, this couple has been in the Indiana Army National Guard since 2006. They have found their deployment together beneficial for saving money and paying off debt. But they have also found that while living in a small space of deployment it is best to "learn when to take a step back when things get stressful."
While nine out of 10 of the 138th married couples decided to deploy together, fate was decided for two of the couples. Two couples both had planned on deploying together but discovered they were each expecting. Just previous to SRP, Spc. Chelsea Singleton and Spc. Bradley Singleton, natives of Danville, Ind. discovered they were pregnant with their first child, Adele. Fortunately, Spc. Chelsea Singleton was able to continue her military duties as an administrative assistant throughout our training. We are able to catch glimpses of our Soldier as a mother on Skype as Adele is now seven months old. The Singleton's have a great family support system and plan on deploying together in 2011.
We witnessed love blossom between Franklin, Ind., native Spc. Sarah Gober and Spc. Andrew Gober who is from Brazil, Ind. during pre-mobilization as well as their wedding at Camp Atterbury Chapel. Even though Spc. Gober misses his wife and is waiting for news of the arrival of Layla Rachelle, he manages to keep his spirits high. The multitude of changes in this Soldier married couple has shown their dedication to duty and their relationship with one another.
Our tenth married couple, Spc. Christine Holmes and Spc. Jason Holmes decided only one of them would travel on this deployment. Spc. Christine Holmes received the call that the unit was deploying and that they had the option for both or one Soldier to deploy. It wasn't a hard decision for her and Christine promptly called Jason and let him know of his travel plans. She is currently at their home taking care of their son, Shane, and the household. Regardless of geographical proximity, the best advice that Spc. Jason Holmes can give to other married couples is to "trust one another." And as we know as Soldiers, trust is the most important part of any relationship.
Having 10 married couples in the same National Guard unit may seem to be a high percentage to the outsider. But the people of Brazil, Ind., and Wabash Valley have a rich history of staying close to home, supporting their community, and investing in relationships. "It is only natural that spouses would serve their country together," said Sgt. Raulston. The 138th QM Spt. Co. has a long lineage of commitment to the mission and to fostering relationships. Regardless of whether spouses, father and sons or brothers, are serving together, or just being members of the 138th, having dedicated Soldiers makes for dedicated relationships.