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U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Joshua Thomsen
U.S. Army Sgt. Karla Thomsen
Couple Shares Re-enlistment 'Vows' at Taji
By Sgt. Jon Cupp
1st Brigade Combat Team
1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs
CAMP TAJI, Iraq, Feb. 6, 2007 — Justin and Karla Thomsen do just about everything together - even go to war. So, it was no surprise that the two 1st Cavalry Division noncommissioned officers re-enlisted together here Jan. 25.

Staff Sgt. Joshua Thomsen is a chemical operations specialist with Company D, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment from Oxnard, Calif. His wife, Sgt. Karla Thomsen, is a joint network node operator for Company B, 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion and a native of Franklin, Wis. The pair raised their right hands together, re-enlisting for another six years, at the 1st "Ironhorse" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division retention office.

Back home in the states or while deployed, the couple said they're attached at the hip doing most things together - so re-enlisting together wasn't too much of a stretch.

"This isn't really that unusual for us, we decided to do this because we like to do everything together as a family," said Karla. "I feel like today, we've accomplished something that will help us build our future."

"The First Team (1st Cavalry Division), as well as our brigade, has really taken care of us," said Joshua. "They do a great job of helping families, especially dual military families, so we figured we would pay them back by staying on the team."

Joshua and Karla both said they like the security that a career in the Army offers.

The husband and wife pair netted $30,000 in cash tax-free for re-enlisting while deployed to Iraq in the form of two separate $15,000 re-enlistment bonuses.

"We want to pay off some money on our house as well as invest some of it," said Karla.

Along with their bonus, the couple accepted a III Corps incentive which allows soldiers to attend 12 semester hours of college during duty hours.

"We'll both attend school together and I'm pretty close to having an associate's degree and I'll eventually go for my bachelors," said Karla who will major in computer networking and engineering. Joshua plans on working toward a degree in environmental engineering.

When they first entered military service about six years ago, Karla and Joshua said they would have never dreamed of marrying a fellow soldier and they may not have thought much about re-enlisting either.

That all changed, however, in 2004 when the two met while unchaining military vehicles at a railhead at the National Training Center on Fort Irwin, Calif.
Staff Sgt. Joshua Thomsen, a chemical operations specialist with Company D, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment from Oxnard, Calif., and Sgt. Karla Thomsen, a joint network node operator for Company B, 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion from Franklin, Wis., re-enlisted Jan. 25 on Camp Taji, Iraq as Capt. Edward Kendall, Company B commander, read the oath of enlistment. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jon Cupp

"We saw stars," said Karla when they first saw each other.

The couple is now on their second rotation together in Iraq, having also served in 2004-2005 during Operation Iraqi Freedom II at Camp Cuervo, Iraq.

"At that time, they didn't let married couples live together," Joshua said. "We're fortunate to be able to live together on Taji. A lot of other soldiers have to wait six months to see their loved ones, and I have the person I value the most here with me."

"We feel privileged," said Karla.

Having only recently bought a home in Killeen, Texas, the Thomsens re-enlisted for the stabilization option which will allow them to stay at their current duty station-Fort Hood, Texas. Originally, they had planned on taking an overseas duty tour to Japan but they didn't want to leave the Killeen area, their house and their German Shepherd.

"The city of Austin is close and we like the cost of living," said Joshua.

"Although Japan would be nice, we couldn't have brought the dog and then, we would have had to have sold our house and we're also thinking about starting a family once we get back," said Karla, adding that she likes the feeling of being settled and doesn't want to move back and forth to other duty stations.

Once the couple returns home for good from Iraq, they said they plan on taking a vacation either to some place tropical or to Las Vegas where they own a time share condominium.

Last Updated:
02/06/2007, Eastern Daylight Time
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