By Stephen Standifird, Fort Leonard WoodAugust 19, 2016
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- When married science teachers Josh and Leslie Wangeman joined the Army National Guard, they expected they would complete Basic Combat Training at the same time, but not at the same place.
"We didn't know we were going to ship to the same post, let alone the same company," Josh said. "We were just hoping to walk out the front door at the same time and walk back in at the same time following graduation."
Their drill sergeants were as surprised as the Wangemans when the two ended up together at Fort Leonard Wood at the 43rd Adjutant General Battalion and then with Company D, 3rd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment.
"When we picked up the privates from the 43rd, we were told we had a married couple," said Staff Sgt. Jonathon Weischedel, 3rd platoon drill sergeant. "I have never heard of that happening before."
Their drill sergeants were initially concerned about the couple attending basic training at the same time in the same company. They kept the couple separate whenever possible, a measure that they soon found was unnecessary.
"They weren't Soldiers who tried to gravitate toward each other, because they had a relationship outside of the Army," admitted Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Anderson, 3rd platoon senior drill sergeant. "If (you) didn't know from the beginning they were married, you would've never known."
It may have looked easy to the drill sergeants, but both Josh and Leslie had their struggles. Leslie said the added scrutiny caused by the situation led to them pushing themselves even harder.
"We got to talk sometimes, but I don't know if it made it easier," Josh said. "If anything, I think seeing the other person probably emotionally made it more difficult."
However, both drill sergeants were impressed with how well the couple handled themselves. Though they were often apart, Josh did hear his wife was doing well, especially after she scored higher than him on the Army Physical Fitness Test.
Leslie was ultimately recognized for achieving the highest PT score in the company.
"We would try to pin them against each other," Weischedel recalled. "We didn't try to cause any tension, but there was definitely competition."
Both Josh and Leslie stood out to their drill sergeants as natural leaders, and both served in leadership positions throughout training. Josh received a platoon leadership award and Leslie received the Commanding General's Award of Excellence
"Both of them have a bright future in front of them," Anderson said.
Following graduation from basic training Thursday, Aug. 18, the Wangemans returned to their community of Spearfish, South Dakota to resume preparations for the upcoming school year.
They expect to begin the process to commission as officers through the South Dakota National Guard Officer Candidate School in January.