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Sunday December 17th 2017

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Love and Marriage… and Combat Boots

By Claire DeRoin–Men in uniform are a hot commodity. There’s even a dating site for women to seek them out! While most college students end up dating fellow students, some collegians are lucky enough to snag a man in uniform. This can throw a wrench into

Air Guard
“I like having pictures on my Facebook of us with him in his uniform,” Michelle Kuester said with a laugh of her Iowa Air Guard boyfriend Andrew Snyder. “It makes me feel noble.”

Andrew Snyder and Michelle Kuester

Andrew Snyder and Michelle Kuester

Snyder has been in the Air Guard for three years, working as an aircraft mechanic.  “Everyone automatically assumes that since I am in the Air Force, that means I am a pilot or fly airplanes,” Snyder said. “They think that’s the only job the Air Force offers.” Although he’s enjoying his job as a mechanic now, his life goal is to be an airline pilot. After graduation, Snyder plans on applying to be an Air Guard pilot. “The reason I joined was the idea that I could have the military train me to fly instead of me paying for the training myself on the civilian side,” Snyder explains.

Kuester and Snyder have been dating for a year and a half. Kuester said that his service has barely impacted the relationship at all.  “No one really knows he’s in the military. Andrew does drill two days a month.”

Before they were dating, “Andrew was in Qatar, but never saw combat,” Kuester explained. Now Snyder only leaves for training a few days a month and she is perfectly happy with that. “Day to day, I’m not worried,” Kuester said.

“She does worry when I fly in the tanker, though,” Snyder added.

Yet the couple isn’t totally in the clear. “If nukes started going off, he’d probably have to go and that scares me,” Kuester said of North Korea’s new nuclear missile tests. “He’s young and agile. If things got bad, they’d force him to leave.”

That’s a valid concern. Airmen from the 185th Refueling Wing in Sioux City just returned home from a deployment in October.

Snyder is more than confident in the relationship, even if a deployment were to come up. “That’s a hurdle we’ll get over when the time comes. Our relationship is stable enough that we would make it through.” He cites Skype as a good tool for coping with any distance that may occur.

For now, Snyder is safe on campus and is finishing his American history degree at Morningside. Kuester will graduate in May.

Army National Guard
Whitney and Josh Dawson have been happily married since October 27 of 2012. They have been together for seven years.

Josh and Whitney Dawson

Josh and Whitney Dawson

After three years of dating, Whitney was surprised when Josh enlisted in the Army National Guard.

“He actually didn’t tell me right away when he enlisted. I was not excited at all, but I learned to cope and be supportive eventually. Basic was definitely the hardest thing I have gone through with the Army,” Whitney said. “I had just started college. It was a major change when we weren’t able to talk. Going from talking every day to receiving letters every once in a while was definitely a challenge.”

“A lot of people assumed I would always be super depressed when he would leave for weeks at a time,” Whitney said of her friends and family. The relationship still wasn’t anything like Army Wives.  “Although it was tough, I learned to deal with it. You learn that you have to be strong for your significant other to keep them going.”

Soldiers and their significant others sometimes encounter insensitive questions such as how many terrorists died at their hand, but the Dawsons have luckily avoided situations like that. Whitney feels for those who are hammered with tough questions, though. “These guys are highly trained to deal with things like this. These soldiers know when they are to kill someone and would never act inhumanely,” Whitney said. “The soldiers are doing their best to work for our country.”

Josh will not re-sign with the Army. Instead, he has chosen to travel with Whitney to Florida where she will be attending chiropractic school and he will be working.