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Pfc. David Alvarado and Annaliese Alavardo got married in October 2006. It was six months after he had enlisted — with Annaliese by his side — in the U.S. Army.

Pfc. Alvarado, 22, learned about a month after they married that he would be assigned in January 2007 to Yongsan Garrison, South Korea, for one year.

For married junior enlisted soldiers like Alvarado, an assignment to Korea means going unaccompanied by family. For them, a solo tour on the peninsula is like being deployed, minus the bombs and bullets.

The Alvarados have to work at communicating, something that doesn’t come free. David estimates he spends about $80 a month on Internet access and phone cards to stay connected to Annaliese.

The Alvarados said they’ve adjusted to the distance, and it even has its upsides – like learning to be patient and becoming more independent.

“There are things we go through on a daily basis, and we can’t help each other because of the distance,” David said. We’ve learned to deal with things independently, and I think that will help a lot in the event of a future deployment.”

Both say the separation lets them focus on themselves for now.

For Annaliese, a 23-year-old hairdresser who lives in Newport Beach, Calif., that means working full-time and going to school.

For David, that means work.

Does he wish Annaliese was here? Yes and no. He misses her, but travels frequently and works long hours.

“I don’t think it would have been fair to bring my wife here to Korea and not be home,” he said. “I would have brought her to a different country that she’s never been to, a different environment away from her family and friends, and not been be able to see her.”

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