Story and photo by Sgt. Marcus Fichtl
2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
CAMP BUEHRING, KUWAIT — It’s a love story like any other. Boy meets girl, they fall in love and grow old together in a combat zone.
Spc. Alexandria Perez and Sgt. Eduardo Perez met six years ago at “Charlie Med,” Company C, 204th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, two privates as new to each other as they were to the Army.
Culturally, they were two people as different as could be found anywhere. One is from Los Angeles and the other from Laredo, Texas. One a lover of Tejano music, the other joined the Army straight out of fashion school. But in the Army, both hundreds of miles from home, they found a Family in their unit and with each other.
“We connected on paper,” said Alexandria Perez, a health care specialist. “We didn’t have much in common, but both coming from big Mexican Families, we shared values of faith and Family.”
And seemingly, his Texan chivalry meshed with her Californian openness.
“He was always saving me and keeping me out of trouble,” said Alexandria Perez. “He would help me with my ruck (sack) or always have a spare of whatever I forgot to (bring to) formation.”
“We grew on each other,” said Eduardo Perez, a behavioral health specialist. “If I needed someone to talk to or vent (to), I went to her. She would understand me.”
A few months into their stay on Fort Carson, they received the word that they were deploying to Iraq.
“When we deployed to Iraq, we were here on Camp Buehring. The list came out for the two different locations we were deploying to: She went to (Forward Operating Base) Kalsu; I went to Camp Echo, and the moment we were away from each other that’s when it hit me, that’s when I realized I was falling in love,” Eduardo Perez said.
The couple exchanged emails and phone calls while apart, but a few close calls on Camp Echo and a noncombat related medical evacuation for Eduardo Perez pressed him into action.
“I realized how real everything was and how precious our time here was,” he said.
On New Year’s Eve 2009, during their rest and recuperation leave, surrounded by Alexandria’s Family, Eduardo’s knee hit the ground as the clock struck midnight.
“I said, ‘Yes. Oh my God, get up, get up, what are you doing, you just met my Family,” said Alexandria Perez.
Lost in the sea of commotion, her Family didn’t even notice. They wouldn’t learn about the engagement until after he returned to Iraq the next day.
A year later they married at the Colorado Springs courthouse. Four years after their wedding, they are once again on Camp Buehring, their second deployment together.
“We’ve definitely grown as a couple,” Alexandria Perez said. “He eats sushi, now.”
“I finally converted her to be a Dallas Cowboys’ fan,” he said.
But while their competitive spirit and culture clash still define their relationship through games of chess and heated dinner conversations at the dining facility, their thoughts focus on their two children, Sebastian, 3, and Eduardo Jr., 2.
“Our friends here think we’re funny, the way we banter back and forth,” said Alexandria Perez. “We still get real passionate about everything we talk about. But what we’ve really missed (on) this deployment is our children.”
The long emails and late night phone calls to each other in between the improvised explosive device and mortar attacks of 2008 have been replaced with video chat sessions with their children, who are just beginning to understand what their parents do.
“Deployment is still tough,” said Eduardo Perez. “Being away from our Family for so long, it makes it tough for a dual-military Family like ours. We try to video chat with our kids two or three times a week.”
A love forged in Iraq, and now refined in Kuwait, the Perez’s are proud of what they’ve made together.
“I hope our kids will see our service as something to be proud of when they get older, and that our Family, just like everyone who has served after 9/11, is a small part of history,” said Eduardo Perez.