Love is in the air at TUSAB
February 18, 2014
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. -There are plenty of military romances, but one particular building on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall - Brucker Hall, home of The United States Army Band is filled with married couples.
"Within TUSAB, there are at least 32 people who are married to a fellow TUSAB member," said Jen Maly, director of marketing and public relations for "Pershing's Own."
The Pentagram spoke with three of the couples, who shared their stories of romance. They also shared their secrets to their work-life balance as married couples who not only share the same profession, but are assigned together.
Leigh and Kevin
Staff Sgts. Leigh Lafosse and Kevin Simpson both play clarinet in The U.S. Army Concert Band and recalled the first time they met. "We had crossed paths at work a few times, but it wasn't until the Spirit of America [tour] that we got to know each other a bit," Simpson said.
"We ended up sitting next to each other on a band bus that got into a small accident, forcing us to have a longer conversation," Lafosse said.
"We talked for about an hour and a half," Simpson added.
The conversation turned into a "heated philosophical debate," confided Lafosse.
"It's fun to meet a worthy adversary! Although, in all honesty, he can logic me under the table," Lafosse added.
Simpson said the couple had three weddings - one small, official ceremony with the parents, an east coast reception for local friends.
"All the women were encouraged to wear wedding dresses [to that one]," said Lafosse. They also had a west coast wedding ceremony for Simpson's side of the family.
Both Lafosse and Simpson agree that balances their work lives without conflict has been easy: "Honestly it's been very easy to manage for the most part. It's nice having similar schedules so we see a lot of each other," Simpson said.
"Having the same job makes it easy to truly understand anything the other person encounters at work and the musician commonality comes in handy when we're playing piano or singing together at home," said Lafosse.
Their secret to success? Communication, communication, and communication.
"Not all of our conversations have been sunshine and rainbows, but they're always overflowing with truth," Lafosse said. "Neither of us is perfect, and it's powerful when you realize that your partner knows exactly how flawed you are and still loves you in spite of it all."
Adrienne and Nicholas
Staff Sgts. Adrienne Hodges, clarinet, The U.S. Army Ceremonial Band and Nicholas Hodges, viola, U.S. Army Strings, met in Rochester, N.Y., while both were students at the Eastman School of Music, before either were in the Army.
"We met in strings methods class, but didn't start dating until sophomore year." said Nicholas.
After graduating, the couple endured a long-distance relationship while Adrienne remained in New York for graduate school and Nicholas started his master's degree at Penn State University. They visited one another every month or two and spent a lot of time talking on the phone.
After grad school, Adrienne joined Nicholas in Pennsylvania, where he popped the question. "We went out to a gazebo on a river in a nearby town," she said.
The two were married in June 2008.
Then, Adrienne enlisted in the Army after winning a position with The U.S. Army Field Band at Fort Meade, Md. The couple moved to the National Capital Region and started a family. Daughter, Madeline was born in March, 2012.
Nicholas joined the Army in January, 2013 and began working at TUSAB in March, 2013.
Today, both are thankful that dual enlistments in the Army landed them a joint assignment with The U.S. Army Band.
"We're still surprised and blessed at how lucky we are to be assigned to the same unit," said Adrienne. "We never thought that would happen."
Adrienne is expecting another daughter, due in March. Once the baby is born and she returns to duty, the couple says their schedules will differ again. Still, the couple says they can adapt.
"Performing can be stressful at times ... but I think it's really fulfilling and our careers are what we love to do and we've been loving [music] since we were in school and knew this is what we wanted to do professionally," said Nicholas.
While shared musical tastes help solidify their relationship, the key to their six years of marital success has been a combination of humor and resilience, said Nicholas.
"I think respecting each other as colleagues and as husband and wife are very important," Adrienne said.
Kendra and Robert
For Sgts. 1st Class Kendra and Robert Craven, not "sweating the small stuff" and sneaking in dates together has served as a central ingredient to their marriage of nearly 10 years.
Both are assigned to The U.S. Army Concert Band. Kendra plays clarinet and Robert plays French horn.
The Cravens said they started dating after seeing one another on the bus on band trips and around the building at Brucker Hall after Kendra started working there 13 years ago. "I thought she was the prettiest female here and she still is the most attractive," he said, while smiling at his wife.
"When we got engaged, Rob left notes around the house, leading me to the ring," said Kendra. They married June, 12, 2004.
The Cravens balance a home life with their two children, son Benjamin, 6, and daughter, Claudia, 5. "Benjamin recently pointed out our wedding picture to a friend, saying 'this was my mommy and daddy when they were in love," said Robert.
They admit to having a lot of babysitters due to the demands of their busy schedules with the band. On top of that, Kendra also teaches flute lessons. "We have a lot of concerts at night and on weekends," she said.
"That's how we cope with the demands of our job," added Robert.
The couple carpool to work together, and sneak in breaks or lunch together as time permits.
"Dressing up and going out to a nice restaurant in D.C. is my idea of a great date night," said Kendra. "We don't get to do that often, but enjoy doing that on a special occasion, like our anniversary."
The Cravens said they're looking forward to spending Valentine's as guests at a dinner party.
"The good thing about working together is when you have to come home and vent, someone in another profession might think our issues here are petty or silly," said Kendra. "It's easier when someone completely understands," added Robert.