A newlywed couple are celebrating their first wedding anniversary together – by starting military training ahead of being sent to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Corporal Benham Cook (corr), 26, and his Lance Corporal wife Sara, 23, met three years ago through the Territorial Army’s 123 Ammunition Squadron in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs.
They tied the knot on January 28 last year but instead of celebrating their first year of married life with a romantic meal, the couple are preparing for a six-month tour of Helmand Province.
The couple will be with a group of 25 soldiers from the 159 Supply Regiment – who are helping regular troops in an effort to drive out Taliban insurgents.
They are currently training for their upcoming mission which will involve supplying ammunition and equipment to front line troops.
And despite being posted to Camp Bastion together, Benham and Sara are likely to be given separate duties and will only see each other at evening meals.
Brave Sara, who graduated from Keele University in 2011, joined the Army on the advice of her brother Nathan, who is also a Lance Corporal who served in Afghanistan.
Sara, from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs., said: “I’m really excited, as well as a little nervous.
“This is what we train for and, as a soldier, I think it’s something you have to experience.
“Although being in the TA means we don’t see each other as much as we like, I actually think it has brought us closer together – it’s a passion for both of us.
“My family are very supportive, but a bit worried, so it’s comforting to them that my husband will be out there to look out for me.
“We are luckier than most in that we will be together during our training but if we are separated out there, it could be difficult, especially if one of us goes outside the wire.
“That said though, at least we will know what the other one is thinking and I imagine it will be easier than waiting at home.”
Husband Benham, who is in his eighth year with the TA and served in Iraq in 2007, added: “I joined because I saw the red sign for the TA Centre while driving through the streets and wondered what it was all about.
“This is my second major deployment and I can’t wait to be honest. This is what I joined the Army for.
“I can’t wait to get out there. Being in a relationship with someone in the Army has obvious difficulties, but when you’re both in the Army, it brings an entirely new set of problems.
“It would almost be easier for me if Sara was at home so I would know she was safe, especially if one of us has to go outside the wire.
“Having said that, at least I know I’m close enough to get to get to her if something bad should happen and we’ll see each other for short periods of time.
“We do have a bit of banter, but we’re like a big family and everyone has been very supportive.”
The couple have been nicknamed ‘The Cookies’ by their TA colleagues.
Lieutenant Colonel Colin Francis, who selected the couple for the tour, said: “I’ve watched them get to know each other over the years.
“They make a brilliant team. They are both excellent soldiers and will serve us well in Afghanistan.”