Artillery Soldiers find ways to celebrate, or ignore, Valentine's Day
March 3, 2010
- Deployed artillery units find many ways to deal with separation on day of romance.
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq -- It is said that love knows no boundaries, and no one is more familiar with this than deployed Soldiers.
Despite being thousands of miles from their loved ones, the Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 14th Field Artillery, also known as Task Force Leader, still found ways to celebrate the country's most commercialized holiday.
According to the National Retail Federation, consumers in the U.S. spend about $14 billion each year on Valentine's Day.
Facing separation from his fiancAfA, Miranda Wood, was no surprise for 2nd Lt. Steven Westbrook, A Battery, 1-14th FA platoon leader, located at Forward Operating Base Speicher.
"We will have been together for five years in May and have spent one Valentine's Day together. This is nothing new," he said.
"I wish that we could have spent the day together, but knowing that he's safe is good enough for me," said Wood, the daughter of a retired military officer. The couple plan to marry in the summer of 2011.
Sgt. Jason Giguere, A Battery, 1-14th FA HIMMARS launcher chief, insisted Feb. 14 was just another day on the calendar.
"I didn't have to do anything special because I love and miss her as much every day," he said of wife, Jerianne.
Giguere said he called his spouse, mother of their two children, on the holiday but admitted, "I did absolutely nothing romantic. She loves me anyways."
The forward operating base where Giguere's platoon is located held a variety of activities, including a 5K road race and co-ed volleyball tournament. During the "American Idol"- like contest, Soldiers were invited to sing, dance or act for prizes. The chapel also hosted a marriage strengthening event which showed the film "Fireproof: Never Leave Your Partner Behind" and distributed copies of the book "The Love Dare" by Alex and Stephen Kendrick.
Being deployed for the first time didn't stop 2nd Lt. Kimberly Bevins from exchanging gifts with her husband Brian, a drill sergeant in D Battery, 1st Battalion, 19th Field Artillery back at Fort Sill.
"We just celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary earlier in the week," she said when reached by phone. "I sent him a waffle iron and he sent me two boxes with magazines and candy. We also bought little gifts for our kids."
Bevins, a platoon leader in C Battery, 1-14th FA, met her husband, currently a staff sergeant when they became neighbors after he returned from Iraq in 2003.Task Force Leader is comprised of 1-14th FA's A and C Batteries, E Battery, 151st Target Acquisition and elements of Headquarters, Headquarters Battery, 1-14th FA.
The group deployed in November 2009. Under Task Force Commander, Maj. Gordon Crawford and Task Force Sergeant Major Master Sgt. Bret Mellott, they are located at 14 forward operating bases throughout Iraq. TF Leader provides precision