Face of Defense: Army Couple Teaches Lifesaving Skills
By Army Spc. Gaelen Lowers
3rd Sustainment Brigade
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq, Aug. 19, 2010 Making sure all 5,200 soldiers in the 103rd Sustainment Command’s 3rd Sustainment Brigade, are qualified in combat lifesaving is a daunting task, but Army Spc. Joshua Fillingane and his wife, Army Spc. Andrea Fillingane, make it look easy.
Army Spc. Joshua Fillingane and his wife, Army Spc. Andrea Fillingane, teach proper needle-chest decompression techniques to soldiers July 25, 2010, at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. U.S. Army photo by Gaelen Lowers
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“They work well together,” said Army Staff Sgt. Michael Tindal, a brigade emergency care noncommissioned officer and Manning, S.C., native. “You can see their teamwork during the class. They take things from their relationship at home and bring them to work.”
Joshua, the brigade’s primary combat lifesaver instructor and a Fairmont, Minn., native, met Andrea, an aid station specialist and Austin, Texas, native, while attending advanced individual training in 2007.
“In AIT, we didn’t really hang out a lot,” Andrea said. “He flirted with me and asked me out, but I told him no. But once we went home to our reserve units, I found out that I actually missed him.”
Joshua said he and Andrea started dating over the phone.
“She decided to visit for four days and never left,” Joshua said. “We were married a couple months after that.”
A few months after their marriage, they both went into active duty. They said being married has helped them both at home and on the job.
“I know what he’s best at, and he knows what I am best at,” Andrea said. “A lot of the time, we don’t even have to discuss it, because we already know who’s going to do what. We work together a lot, so we know each other better. It makes things easier for us.”
Their NCOs think the situation is beneficial to the brigade by having them work together on such an important aspect of training.
“Since before I ever arrived at the unit, they have worked together on CLS and other projects, and it has just worked for the unit,” said Army Staff Sgt. Tricia Watkins, a medical platoon sergeant and Sacramento, Calif., native. “They work well together. They know the material. They work different facets of the class and balance each other out.”
This is the couple’s first deployment. They said they wouldn’t have wanted to deploy without each other.
“It makes [deployment] easier,” Andrea said. “You have someone to lean on and help you cope with everything you face.”
Around 90 percent of combat deaths occur on the battlefield before casualties reach a medical treatment facility, according to the Army combat lifesavers course manual. This is why the Army requires every soldier heading into a combat zone to receive CLS training.
Operation Iraqi Freedom will transition into Operation New Dawn on Sept. 1, and the number of troops in Iraq will be about 50,000 by then. This means the 3rd Sustainment Brigade will provide the primary CLS instructors for northern and central Iraq, Tindal said. This will put the Fillinganes in charge of training nearly 20 percent of U.S. forces in Iraq.
“It makes me feel good that my NCOs trust us to do what we need to do to get the job done,” Joshua said. “It’s a big responsibility.”
Both specialists said part of the reason they love their job is because they are together.
“I love working with her,” Joshua said. “It makes the job a lot easier, having someone there. When things go bad, I know I have someone there that I can rely on heavily to make things go right.”