Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. --
High school sweethearts turned Airmen are about to embark on another hurdle in their relationship - deployment.
Senior Airman Alex Greenawalt, 49th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal technician, and Airman 1st Class Alana Greenawalt, 635th Materiel Maintenance Group power production technician, deployed at the same time to different locations.
Separation is nothing new to this couple, after meeting in high school in 2009 and beginning their relationship in 2010, this couple has been separated twice by basic training and technical school, and were also apart due to college.
Alex joined the Air Force in August 2012 as Alana was beginning her sophomore year in college.
“I was working full time, and my dad said, ‘Go to college or start paying rent.’ I didn’t want to do either of those so, I started looking into the Air Force,” said Alex. “In senior year of high school I did a vocational school for public service and became a certified EMT. I liked that mentality of helping people and quick decision making skills so I decided on the EOD career field.”
Although, Alana was initially concerned about his career choice, at the end of the day she learned that there was no use in worrying.
“I realized that if I excessively worried, he wouldn’t want to tell me if there was a close call or if something went wrong,” said Alana. “I want him to tell me if there’s a close call or anything of the sort.”
While Alex was beginning his journey to become an EOD Airmen, Alana was taking full course load semesters to earn her Bachelor of Science degree in graphic design early, so that she could also join the Air Force.
“Originally I wanted to drop out of my freshman year and join the Air Force,” Alana said. “My mom talked me into finishing college. I love playing soccer and she said that I’d regret not using that time for myself and playing the sport that I love.”
A year after Alex graduated from Naval School EOD, Eglin AFB, Fla. Alana and Alex wed, June 14, 2014. But it still wasn’t time for them to be together just yet. Alana still had her last semester of school to complete.
“Alana graduated college in the fall of 2014,” Alex said. “She moved down to Kirkland Air Force Base, N.M. where I was stationed, and then shipped off to basic training in February of 2015.”
The process was different for Alana to join, since she had begun the process in their home state of Pennsylvania.
“I guess some processes were different in the two states,” Alana said. “My recruiter gave me all sorts of jobs that I could do, but none that would put Alex and I together for a long time due to training requirements. If Alex and I hadn’t been engaged when I started this process, I would have taken whatever job I wanted to do, but when it came time to join, the most important thing for me was us, and where we could be stationed together. We didn’t want to have to do the long-distance relationship anymore, unless a deployment or TDY came up.”
Once Alana completed basic training, she went to tech school, that’s where she learned her and her husband would move to Holloman AFB.
“When Alana called me and told me we were moving to Holloman, I was happy that we’d be stationed together,” said Alex, “I had been down to Holloman for a TDY and I liked the mission and the people in the shop.”
The Greenawalt’s have been stationed here at Holloman for a little more than a year. The only separation they’ve encountered in the last year, is a few TDY’s.
“We used to Skype often when we were apart,” said Alex. “But now that we’re together all the time, when I go TDY, we’ll text or call, but -- it’s a nice little vacation now,” laughed Alana.
Prior to deploying, the Greenawalt’s focused on spending time together and setting goals while they are deployed, like hitting their fitness goals and purchasing a new vehicle when returning to the states.
Being a mil-to-mil couple doesn’t come without its ups and downs.
“I think the worst thing about being a mil-to-mil couple, is sometimes grabbing the wrong blouse,” Alana said. “I’ve accidently grabbed his blouse or pants before and had to take out the seam of his EOD badge on his blouse.”
Even though uniforms can sometimes get to the wrong Greenawalt, mainly Alana, the Greenawalt’s still are happy with their day to day lives together.
“Alana is my best friend. We were together before either of us joined the military and I’m happy that we will always have this experience together.” Alex said. “But the best thing about being a mil-to-mil couple is that she understands the Air Force and that there are some expectations that have to be met. Deployments, early days, long nights, etc. she gets all of that without me having to explain it to her.”
Although spending time apart is hard for any couple, the Greenwalt’s keep a positive attitude through the distance.
“We are really good at the long distance thing; it’s not ideal, but we make it work,” Alana said. “After every separation, we always fall right back in sync with each other. It’s as if there was no time spent apart from each other.”