Most men struggle to come up with date ideas for Valentine's Day, but many of them have the convenience of cities and flower delivery services to save them in the eleventh hour from sleeping on the couch. It would be near impossible for Sgt. Andrew Johnson, currently deployed in Afghanistan at Camp Leatherneck, to plan a date night with his wife – if Sgt. Frances Johnson wasn't deployed at the same base, too.
Married to the military
Stars and Stripes reported on the Johnsons' improbable journey to serving together in southeastern Afghanistan that started in southern California. Frances had been put in charge of training Marine Recruit Depot San Diego's newest puppy, but when the soldier originally assigned to assist her was busy, Andrew stepped in. Fast forward four years and the two are serving together at Camp Leatherneck. Frances is the media chief for the Marine unit stationed there, and Andrew is the program manager for the collection of IED detector dogs.
The couple described the first few years of serving together as difficult. They were treated like the rest of the soldiers and were not permitted any more time alone than the non-married Marines. However, the Johnsons have just been granted approval by military officials to live together.
A reminder of the normal
The Johnsons are not the first couple to serve together at the same base – in fact, they are not even the first to do so at Camp Leatherneck. In 2012, the Department of Defense reported on Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Luke Billingsley and his wife, Marine Corps Sgt. Nancy Billingsley, as they both completed a seven-month deployment.
The Billingsleys noted that even though everything around them may feel foreign, having their significant other alongside them reminds them of the comforts of home.
"The main benefit of being deployed with my wife is the peace of mind I have," Luke told the DOD. ""I don't have worry about my wife needing anything, because I can see her here. I see her every day."
Nancy agreed that although it still feels like she is away from home, it would be much worse without her husband.
"Having my husband out here makes it really easy for me to do my job," Nancy said. "That homesickness part of the deployment doesn't really exist. I mean, we miss our kids, but ultimately, that home sickness doesn't set in like everybody else's."