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A line forms at the champagne table as Baumholder, Germany, officers and spouses celebrate Valentine’s Day with a party. About 170 people packed into the ballroom of the Rhinelander, the base club.
A line forms at the champagne table as Baumholder, Germany, officers and spouses celebrate Valentine’s Day with a party. About 170 people packed into the ballroom of the Rhinelander, the base club. (LeAnne MacAllister / Courtesy of U.S. Army)

BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Soldiers, despite their legendary toughness, can be devastatingly romantic. So romantic they may catch off guard Army spouses, legendary for being stoically tough during deployments.

So, Shanna Persin decided she’d better read her husband’s Valentine’s Day message ahead of time so she wouldn’t get choked up when it flashed on the giant screen during Tuesday night’s big Valentine’s Day bash in Baumholder. But among the brief “love yous” and “miss yous,” Capt. Mike Persin’s 10-line love letter to his wife of five years stood out.

“You make my life worth living,” Persin began from Kuwait, where his 2nd Brigade Combat Team is deployed. “Being with you is the difference between existing and truly living life.”

Thank you, he wrote, for being the light of his soul “and for choosing me. I love you — come what may.”

And even though she’d read it, Shanna Persin couldn’t resist being touched all over again when it flashed on the screen. “I think,” Persin said with a smile Wednesday morning, “that he exceeded the 39-word limit!”

If the Baumholder military community knows how to do anything, it’s get together for special events, and Tuesday night’s “Bringing Hearts Together” St. Valentine’s Day party was no exception. A crowd of about 170 packed into the ballroom of the Rhinelander, the base club. XOXOs from soldiers and officers to wives and husbands was but one highlight.

To some extent, it was about sharing the heartache.

“I miss my honey seriously,” LaWanda Cooper said of her husband, Sgt. Maj. Reginald Cooper of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment. “Really bad.”

It was the couples’ first Valentine’s Day — first holiday, period — apart in a decade of marriage, LaWanda Cooper said. And it’s been tough. When she and her kids sent a video, “it made him miss us even more,” she said. Reginald Cooper even misses Shiloh, the couple’s little Yorkshire terrier “and he hates Shiloh!’ LaWanda Cooper said.

So, she decided it would be more fun to spend Valentine’s Day with people “because this really is one big happy family. I’m not going to sit home and mope!”

Valentine’s was “a night out without the kids,” said Jennifer Mullins, whose husband is Spc. Paul Mullins of HHC, 2nd Brigade. “A night to be an adult.”

“And to have adult conversation,” said Mullins’ pal Denise Guin, who added that as much as she enjoys being with her 4-year-old daughter, Victoria, it’s nice to get together with friends.

The night out was organized by Baumholder’s Army Community Services, with free child care provided by volunteers from the Child Development Center, said Teresa Tucker, one of the organizers and wife of Brig. Gen. Michael Tucker, 1st Armored Division assistant division command–support. Local disc jockey Thomas Ford, a former soldier, donated his mixing talents and sound equipment, which usually fetch $450 per night.

Everyone told her she was going to hate Baumholder, but it’s turned out to be a close-knit community, said Guin, who’s husband, Sgt. John Guin, is with 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment.

Next event to look forward to? Fasching (the German version of Mardi Gras)! said Guin and Mullins.

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