BAGHDAD - Spc. Jason Givens, an assistant supply noncommissioned officer of the 120th Combined Arms Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team beats a welcome mat against the building as big clouds of dust surround him.

Standing in the heat of Forward Operation Base Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad, Givens, a newlywed, watches the dust disappear as his cell phone rings.

His wife is checking in for the day, just wanting to hear her husband's voice.

The two married, April 9, at the courthouse in Raleigh, N.C. Givens boarded a plane for Iraq the following week with no honeymoon or even extended time together.

"It's a humbling experience for me," said Givens. "It teaches me not to take our relationship for granted and helps provide a stronger bond."

The couple was planning to marry later this year, but the deployment changed that. They realized that in a worst case scenario girlfriends are omitted from the flow of information, so they decided to marry early.

Two witnesses attended the ceremony: Givens' cousin and his wife's sister. The quick decision meant some relatives didn't know the couple was married until Givens' wife sent a letter explaining the urgency of the marriage and giving a re-cap of the couple's past.

"The hardest part is dealing with family members who don't understand why we got married so quickly," Givens said. "But we are not going to let them bring us down."

In the letter, his wife gave details on how they met nine years ago and spent their lunch hours together at Myers Park High School in Charlotte, N.C. They both experienced a crush on each other, but were in other relationships so nothing developed between them. After high school they lost contact; she left for college and Givens joined the military.

Five years later they found each other again on MySpace. After the lines of communication were open again, it was just a matter of time before the two connected.

"I had an 'ah-ha moment' during a visit to Starbucks in October 2008 where I knew if I passed up the opportunity to be with Jason, I would be missing out on the best that life has to offer," wrote his wife.

The couple still finds amusement in the fact that they were married in the "worthless checks" courtroom. The courtroom handles both fraudulent checks and marriages.

Since coming to Iraq, Givens has put his house on the market and plans to move to Winston-Salem, N.C., with his wife. She has the "pleasure" of packing and moving all his belongings and monitoring the sale of the house.

"She is very supportive," said Givens. "I have a cell phone so she can call me concerning the sale of the house or anything else she needs."

Givens' duties in Iraq include assisting the supply sergeant, Staff Sgt. Joshua Reyes, with paperwork, making sure equipment is working, and collecting data for the supply property book. Occasionally, he goes on missions to deliver or pick up supplies.

The supply sergeant said he is pleased with Givens' performance.

"He got married right before he came, but he understood why he had to come," said Reyes. "He's a hard-charger. He handles stress well and puts the mission above everything else."

Givens is up for promotion to sergeant. When he returns home and the dust clouds of dirty mats are far behind him, he plans to apply for a position as a North Carolina Army National Guard warrant officer. Upon entry into the warrant officers' program, he and his wife will spend a little more time apart.

"It's a 'Catch-22'; you know it's a lot to look forward to when you get back, but it's hard being apart," said Givens.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16