Staff Sergeant Rodney Gander and Corporal Nicky Gander are a married couple who are serving together in Camp Bastion, Southern Afghanistan.
Army Staff Sergeant, Rodney (42) from Market Harborough works in logistics. His job is to ensure that the 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment's supply chain between Camp Bastion and Nahr-e-Saraj runs smoothly. RAF Cpl, Nicky (36) from Dawlish works in administration. She is responsible for meeting all flights that arrive at Camp Bastion and to ensure all personnel are accounted for on arrival and departure.
The couple met whilst serving on operations in Iraq nine years ago. They are used to being apart. When they met, Nicky served in Italy and Rodney served in Germany. They married in 2005 but only became co-located two years later. During the last four years the couple has spent 18 months apart training for their roles in Afghanistan.
Nicky said: "It feels like we have been apart for much of our marriage so being able to meet up in Camp Bastion has been fantastic."
No chance for romance
Rodney was in Afghanistan for four months before being joined by his wife. Nicky said: "It was a strange feeling when boarding the flight at RAF Brize Norton, everyone else was upset saying goodbye to their loved ones but I was really happy knowing that I was about to meet up with mine".
Finding the time to be together at Camp Bastion is challenging. Nicky works night shifts and Rodney is often off base doing supply runs. When they do get together they go for coffee, watch TV and even have the odd meal at the on-site restaurant. Rodney said: "The restaurant is a nice change from the mess and is just like any ordinary restaurant back in England except we have to wear uniform and carry weapons".
There is no chance of any romance whilst in Camp Bastion. Rodney shares a tent with three of his colleagues and Nicky shares a pod with another female. Whilst in Afghanistan their much-loved cats are living with Nicky's mum and dad in Devon. Nicky said: "The cats are being treated like royalty. I even got a letter from them the other day, although Rodney claims not to have seen it".
Rodney finishes his tour soon and the couple will chalk up another few months of separation to add to their tally. The next time the couple meet will be on Nicky's return to RAF Brize Norton after which they are planning to attend Rodney's Christmas Ball in Abingdon.