By By Staff Sgt. Jeremy D. Crisp, Multi-National Corps - Iraq PAOApril 26, 2008
It has been said that love is blind, love is bliss, but can love help win a noncommissioned officer/Soldier of the month board'
That is how the latter played out for the married duo, Sgt. Beau and Pfc. Elizabeth A. Stuart, both with Headquarters Support Company, Task Force Dragon.
The Stuarts won their respective boards March 28. The process that led them down this path started in February.
Elizabeth, 20, volunteered to go to the Soldier of the month board at the end of February. In contrast, Beau, 24, was told he was to go a week later by one of his NCOs.
Once they realized they would be competing at the same time, they decided to team up and get to studying.
"She would quiz me every night," said Beau, an assistant convoy commander from Bucklin, Kan. "It helped me learn more, otherwise I might have been more apt to just play Playstation and not study as much."
"He forced it on me," said Elizabeth, an evaluations clerk at the TF Dragon personnel shop. "We'd be at home and he would say 'you need to be studying, you need to be studying,' and he would go over the topics with me every night. That really helped me remember everything."
Each kept the other motivated. If one didn't want to study, the other would, and vice versa. Something they both said they needed, considering the long work hours in a deployed environment.
"If I wasn't motivated to study on a given night, then she would be. If she wasn't, then I would be," Beau said. "It worked well as opposed to having a study partner that lived in different place. You might say, 'ahh, I'll go to my room and study, you go to yours,' but our living together helped. We were both tired every night, but we'd look at each other and say 'hey, we need to study.'"
And both were ready when the day for their boards arrived.
Elizabeth competed against nine other people, while Beau competed against one. Both had NCOs from their section on the board. That added to the stress they said.
Beau said that criticism has been a good thing throughout his career because he has learned a lot from his former boss, but that didn't help the stress level when he walked into the board.
"The most difficult part about the board was having my former boss, Sergeant Zebora, and my current boss, [Sgt. 1st Class Alan] Sutton on the board," Beau said. "Sergeant Zebora got put in at the last minute to replace someone, so when I saw him I thought 'oh jeez, he's going to eat me up.' But they were both straight forward."
For Elizabeth, the most difficult part of her board came from never having been to one.
"It was my first board, so I was just trying not to be so scared, trying to be confident," she said. "I felt like I was messing up every thing I was saying."
However, the three mock boards she attended prior to the real thing set her up for success, she said.
It is evident that success has come to the couple as far as attending Army evaluation boards, but they said their marriage has met with success as well - with a little help.
The couple met in February of 2007 and quickly became friends. They dated for a while before getting married Nov. 21, 2007. Things have been somewhat rocky at times for the new couple, especially since being deployed. But they have made things work - with a little insight from the mother-in-law.
"As my mother-in-law has told me a million times, communication is the biggest part of a relationship," Beau said.
Both will put those communication skills to test this summer at the battalion Soldier and NCO of the quarter boards.