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Married Marines serve together in Afghanistan

Helicopter technicians say they don't see each other much despite shared deploymen

Tigard native Branden McClintock doesn't get to see his wife Krystal much these days.

As a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps serving in Afghanistan, that's not too surprising.

What is surprising is that his wife is right there beside him.

McClintock is married to fellow avionics technician Sgt. Krystal Palace-McClintock from Kansas City, Mo. The couple met while serving in the Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 267 and are currently serving their second tour together as helicopter technicians.

The McClintocks are one of three married couples currently deployed with the Camp Pendleton, Calif.,-based helicopter squadron in Helmand Province in Afghanistan.

'Our squadron has had a few married couples in it,' Krystal said. 'It's more common than you think.'

It's couples who can put their personal relationship on hold while on duty that keep everything running smoothly Krystal said.

'We've had couples that work great together and had couples that cause all kinds of problems,' she said. 'One couple when I first came in worked really well together and I had no idea they were married. The were professionals. But then we had another couple that went after her husband with an ax one time. It's not for everybody.'

'It's become the norm'

Branden and Krystal met in 2007.

'I had just returned from Iraq,' Krystal remembers. 'He was one of the new people. I was actually his boss for awhile. I was harsh on him and he hated me for the first year.

'Then we got slotted to take deployment together.'

The couple have been married for about a year and a half and has gotten used to daily grind of long hours and little time together, they said.

'It's become the norm for us,' Krystal said. 'A lot of guys say, 'I could never work with my wife.' But we don't get to spend as much time as everyone thinks. It's not all play.'

As a rule, military couples aren't allowed to live together in Afghanistan, even if they are married, and although they might work in the same squadron, they often work different hours.

'We usually work 12-hour shifts and we're not on the same schedule. I'm coming off when she's coming on,' Branden said. 'When we are off together, we definitely give each other as much time as we can.'

The couple never lets their personal relationship overide their professional obligations, they said.

'If you do your job and keep the mission in your mind, then there will be no problems,' Branden said. 'We understand each other and are able to separate our personal and professional lives together. I'm not saying it doesn't get difficult sometimes, but you have to do it.'

The couple has been serving in Afghanistan since May and said they hope to go home together as well.

In the meantime, Krystal said, they'll continue to work their different schedules and see each other when they can.

'We know how to effectively deploy with each other,' she said. 'We've had a little experience with this.'