Alyssa and Kris Waldhauser have been married over four years, but they have only lived together for six consecutive months. The couple, who met as students at the College, have both been deployed to Iraq. They say the experience has brought them closer together.
p. The couple graduated from the College in 2002. In an e-mail, Alyssa described herself as “any normal college student.” She performed in a comedy troupe and studied at Arizona’s Biosphere project during her sophomore year. Kris was a focused member of the college’s ROTC program where they met as members.
p. At the end of 2002, only months after graduating, it became apparent that Kris would be sent to Iraq. The couple married in Dec. 2002 in a ceremony officiated by a Justice of the Peace.
p. “Since I was getting close to completing my training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, we wanted to make sure we were legally married before I could get sent off to war,” Kris said.
p. Due to complications with troop deployment, Kris was not deployed to Iraq until March 2004. He then served as a platoon leader in the neighborhood of Alamel in Southwest Baghdad. The couple remained in contact through e-mail and infrequent phone calls.
p. While Kris served in Southern Baghdad, Alyssa spent her time in Iraq’s Al Anbar province. As a pilot and leader for Medical Evacuation, she assisted in carrying wounded Marines. During her experiences as a MEDEVAC pilot, Alyssa described seeing, “the worst of the worst.” She did not comment on any particular experiences.
p. Time spent anxiously worrying about each other did not tear their relationship apart. According to Alyssa, time spent in the military shaped their marriage. In the two years they were deployed in Iraq, Alyssa estimates that they “probably fought a total of four times.”
p. “When you are serving in a hostile nation at the same time as the person you love more than anything else in the world, and you know that every phone call or e-mail may be your last, you don’t have time to fight about the insignificant things,” Alyssa said.
p. In the past two years, both Kris and Alyssa have served two tours of duty in Iraq. Some of their service time overlapped, but one partner was often left at home. These periods created an understandable distance between them.
p. “Simply put, it is very easy to misunderstand and miscommunicate in that situation,” Kris said.
p. The couple has recently relocated outside of Fort Rucker, Alabama where Alyssa will be stationed. Kris currently works with the Alabama Army National Guard. Looking back on time spent in Iraq, the couple expressed mixed feelings about the war.
p. “I think the war on terror is real and should be pursued. How should it be pursued? Honestly, I don’t really know anymore,” Kris said.
p. Both expressed disagreement with a characterization of the war as “the spearhead of the war on terror.” While the motive behind the Iraq war might not have always seemed clear to the couple, they remain proud of their service.
p. “The Army and the Army experience has made us a force to be reckoned with. We are now more tenacious, belligerent and indestructible than we ever were before.” Alyssa said.