War on Terrorism

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Face of Defense: Married Supply Sergeants Deploy Together

By Army Spc. William K. Ermatinger
U.S. Division Center

BAGHDAD, Jan. 18, 2011 – A married couple with the 1st Infantry Division’s 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, is deployed here together, serving with U.S. Division Center.

Army Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, and Army Staff Sgt. Tanoka Johnson, with Company F, both serve as supply sergeants.

Tanoka said working in the same field as her husband can help them in their daily tasks.

“We find work simpler with both of us as [supply sergeants],” she said. “If we have questions, we can call each other, discuss the problem, and we understand what the other is dealing with.”

Jeremiah is on his third deployment and Tanoka is on her second. This is the second deployment the two have experienced together, in Iraq, but their first as a married couple.

“[On our] last deployment, we were at Kirkuk Air Base, and the challenge of being together and not married [placed] limitations on time we could spend together,” Jeremiah said.

Tanoka agreed that the previous deployment had been a challenge. But on this deployment, she added, they can spend time together, providing moral support and encouragement for each other.

Jeremiah said it’s easier than having his wife in the United States. For soldiers with spouses at home, he explained, their spouse might not be available right away when something troubling happens. He and Tanoka do not have that problem, he added.

The couple said that although they relate well with each other, being dual-military and deployed, every day brings new challenges. Some nights the units work late, and this can cause conflicts.

“If he has to stay late for a meeting, he may not be home until after I’m asleep,” Tanoka said.

They get around this by making time for each other, they said. Each day the Johnsons coordinate at least one meal together, after their morning exercise, before heading to their offices.

The couple said their children –- who are staying stateside with relatives -- wish they had one parent home through the deployment, but understand the family’s goals.

“We explained to them that we are saving to buy a new home and we could deploy separately [one after the other] or together now,” Tanoka said.

Tanoka was a single mother in the military for seven years before she was married.

“Sometimes we want to do what is easy, but you have to stick with it so you can be proud of yourself and your family will be proud of you also,” she said.

The Johnsons’ respective families love that they are together --especially their mothers, who encourage them to take care of each other.

The Johnsons plan to stay in the military until they retire, and both have re-enlisted for the duration.

“It is a blessing to be going through this together,” Jeremiah said. “Having my support element here with me, I have benefited every step of the way.”

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