Florida spouses deploy together for Iraq mission

Written by  //  July 9, 2009  //  Feature Stories

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (July 9, 2009) — When Pfc. Joseph James deploys this month he won’t have to say goodbye to his wife Samantha – she will be beside him throughout the year-long mission to Iraq.

Pfcs. Samantha and Joseph James of the 1218th Transportation Company pose for a photo outside of the unit's armory in West Palm Beach, Fla., July 1, 2009. The James' are one of the three married couples - all truck drivers - who are deploying with the unit in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Thomas Kielbasa

The James, both privates-first-class and members of the Florida Army National Guard’s 1218th Transportation Company, are one of three married couples deploying together with the West Palm Beach-based unit. All of the couples were truck drivers assigned to the Guard’s 3-116th Forward Support Company, and volunteered for the transportation mission to Southwest Asia.

The unit left Florida on July 8 and is currently at Camp Atterbury, Ind., for additional training before heading to Iraq.

Joseph, 18, and Samantha, 19, met during military training and were married this past April. Joseph said one of the reasons they volunteered to deploy together was so they wouldn’t be split up for a year. He will feel better serving overseas knowing his wife is near him.

“Honestly I’ll still be a little bit unfocused worrying about my spouse, but I’ll be more focused knowing that she is here and not back home a thousand miles away,” he explained. “…It will be easier for me to concentrate on the mission and get done what we need to do.”

Samantha said she is anxious about the mission since this is her first deployment, but having her spouse with her will help make the deployment go by faster.

“I’m a little nervous, but it’s going to be a lot easier since we’ll be together and we have close friends going with us,” she said.

Pfc. Ancharad Shoon, 21, and Pvt. Rashida Shoon, 22, have been married for three months and said that since they joined the military together it was only natural for them to deploy for the same mission.

“The likeliness of us getting deployed with different units was extremely high, so we just volunteered to go with one unit,” Rashida said. “Instead of us being separated we would be together.

She noted that deploying together will have both “pros and cons” for the couple.

“Even though we’re going together as a married couple we can’t go on the same missions together; someone has to stay back at the rear,” Rashida explained. “You’ll still be a little nervous and scared wondering what’s going on and if they’re okay, but it’s a lot better than him being all the way in another country.”

Ancharad said having his wife with him during the deployment will help ease the stress many couples have when they are separated by lengthy deployments.

“There will be less of a headache of wondering if she’s okay at home, and her wondering if I’m okay overseas,” he said. “She’ll be right there with me so she’ll know firsthand what’s happening with me.”

The third couple deploying with the 1218th Transportation Company is Sgts. Stephanie and Miguel Delpaz.

Currently there is no Army regulation prohibiting married couples from deploying together if they volunteer for the same mission.