McConnell Couples: preparing for deployment

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Victor J. Caputo
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Senior Airman Rebekah Beagle and Staff Sgt. Erik Beagle, both members of the 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron, are in a unique position: they are looking forward to an upcoming deployment, which is unusually optimistic for a young, recently-married couple.

The excitement lies in a rare opportunity they are set to experience, which is deploying together to the same location.

The Beagles have been in the same squadron since Rebekah arrived at McConnell in 2011, but they only knew each other in passing.

The 22nd CES has physical training three times a week, and Rebekah and Erik would frequently see each other there in addition to squadron events. Despite the close proximity, it took two years before the Airmen became a couple.

"Our shops were actually right next to each other," said Erik, 22nd CES facility systems flight electrician.

They ran into each other at a mutual friend's birthday party, where Rebekah was drawn to his shyness, even though Erik saw her as out of his league. They quickly began dating and married in July 2013.

Erik deployed just three months after the wedding, and now the two are preparing to leave together.

Most military couples are on separate deployment bands so that children aren't left behind without a parent, but not having any children allowed the Beagles keep their original bands.

"We don't have any children yet," said Rebekah, 22nd CES emergency management logistics journeyman. "Since we were already here and assigned to our band before we ever started dating, we're both able to go this time."

This will be Rebekah's first deployment. She said normal deployment concerns were eased because of the number of people she knows that will be leaving with her.

"Not only am I going with a lot of people from my unit I'll have my husband there, who will for sure take care of me, make sureĀ  I know my way around and help me be more comfortable," said Rebekah.

The Beagles are spending their time preparing themselves by finding a place to lodge their pets, ensuring any recurring bills are taken care of, and storing their personal possessions until they return.

"If we weren't going together I wouldn't be looking forward to this," said Erik. "We're excited for it, we're ready to go."

Much of the preparation work before a deployment normally contributes to the stress of deploying, but it brings out one of the strengths in the Beagles' marriage.

"We always have a lot to talk about at the end of the day," said Erik. "We each understand where we're coming from, knowing the reasons behind everything.

As Rebekah considers whether to continue pursuing a career as an Airmen alongside her husband or to attain a degree in nursing after her enlistment, this upcoming deployment is sure to make a memorable footnote in their life together.

"We've been here for so long, just about anything outside of Wichita [Kansas] is a vacation," said Erik.

(Editor's note: This story is part of a series of articles examining the life of "mil-to-mil" couples, or couples consisting of two military personnel.)