Couple meets on battlefield

Published 12:01 am Saturday, April 7, 2012

Brandie Ammons Garcia and Justin Giordano, two LBWCC students met on a battlefield while deployed to Afghanistan. | Renee LeMaire/For the Star-News



Two students attending LBW Community College, whose lives merged in the war-torn country of Afghanistan, never dreamed their military service would end as it did.

Brandie Ammons Garcia, a 2005 Andalusia High School graduate, stepped out of her comfort zone after completing half of the paramedic program at LBWCC and enlisted as a medic with the U.S. Army in 2007.

“Although my grades were good, I felt very young and inexperienced,” she said.

After basic and advanced individual training, she was stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash., until December of 2008 when she was transferred to Fort Hood, Texas. From there, she deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan, on July 3, 2010.

Meanwhile, Justin Giordano of Brooklyn, N.Y., had already completed four years in the U.S. Navy in Iceland and Greece when he joined the Army in 2004.

“People were going to Afghanistan and Iraq. I wanted to do my part and joined the Army Reserve as military police,” he said.

In 2009, he became a medic and was deployed to Afghanistan the following June.

“The big push was to get the U.S. military personnel into the mainstream population,” he said. “Our unit was attached to the 82nd Airborne, then to the 4th Infantry division serving any medical needs on site,” he said.

In November, as Giordano was away for two weeks, Garcia was sent as medic support to the unit. And it was then their lives would change forever.

“We were the only two medics in the unit,” she said. “The first day we met, there were no missions so we talked a lot and found out we had a lot in common, a lot of the same goals.”

Over the course of the next several months, they spent a lot of time together and the relationship grew.

He was released from the military in April of 2011, but she still had several months to serve and was visiting family in Alabama when he returned to the states.

“He flew from New Jersey to Atlanta to see me for a day before I had to return to Afghanistan,” she said. “All we could think about was getting some real food together, so we went out to eat.”

Once her flight took off, he rented a car and drove to Andalusia to meet her parents and ask for their daughter’s hand in marriage. It would be several months later, however, before the proposal would be made.

In June when she returned to Fort Hood, he drove three days from New York to Texas and they became engaged on July 4th.

“He made a photo album with pictures of the two of us. It started with ‘In a Land, Far, Far Away,’” she said. “The last picture was him holding a ring box. When I turned to look at him, he had the ring.”

Now, both having fulfilled their military obligations, they are following their dreams.

They are both in the paramedic program at LBWCC, which they will complete next May with the skills needed to work as they continue their education. She has the ultimate goal of earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing. His plan is to pursue a medical degree.

The wedding is set for July 6, 2013, with a red, white and blue color scheme. “Stars, stripes and our love forever,” she said.

The American Legion is the site for the reception, a fitting location to celebrate the union of two military veterans who found each other on the battlefield far away from home.