AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar— The sky tints with a grey haze, damp concrete calmly reflects ramp lights in the distance, and a light mist dampens the sage uniform worn by Senior Airman Sylvia Feigum as she illuminates the orange marshaling wands in her hands. After she crosses her arms above her head signaling the aircraft to stop, Feigum walks swiftly to the exit door of the plane.
Feigum, a combat oriented supply organization journeyman with the 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron, is responsible for coordinating supply requests for C-17 Globemaster III aircraft maintenance and also maintains Mobility Readiness Spares Packages containing high-demand and critical aircraft parts for the C-17 and C-5 Galaxy aircraft here. Since arriving at Al Udeid, Feigum has also volunteered to step outside of her primary duties to learn and execute aircraft marshaling.
Taking on this extra duty would hold extra significance for her on one day in particular, when she had the opportunity to marshal in a Boeing 777-200 carrying her husband Senior Airman Matthew Feigum, a combat crew communications journeyman with the 816th Expeditionary Air Lift Squadron.
Now the Feigums find themselves together once more, but this time supporting operations in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility; Sylvia supporting the mission of the 8th EAMS to provide worldwide strategic global reach, while Matthew supports the 816th EAS mission to provide professional and safe combat air lift.
Rapid and frequent changes, especially with regards to deployments, can make it difficult to foster a family life in the military, but Sylvia says she wouldn’t have it any other way.
The Feigums have been married over two years now and in that time Matthew has deployed once before, four months after getting married, while Sylvia is on her first deployment.
“Matt’s deployments are two months less than mine, but we will only be apart a month before I get home,” said Sylvia. “We are really lucky to have our missions align in this way; it seems we have had that luck ever since we enlisted.”
Sylvia explained that she and her husband are from opposite ends of the U.S.; Sylvia from Florida originally and Matt from Oregon. Sylvia’s service began at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, while Matt’s first duty station was at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona. The two would first meet when unfortunate circumstances led to Matt’s humanitarian orders to McChord.
“I moved so I could spend time with my sick mother,” said Matt. “She has always been one of the most important people in my life, but who knew I would meet another important person in my life, my future wife!
"I can’t believe we are both here together and have the opportunity to do this,” he added.
The Feigums expressed the value in maintaining a healthy relationship despite the hardships that can come with a military lifestyle, and said they feel grateful to have each other so close while deployed.
“If it wasn’t for the Air Force I don’t think my husband and I would have ever crossed paths in life,” said Feigum. “We are from opposite sides of the U.S., so I’d like to say it was fate and the Air Force that brought us together.”
With four months remaining, the Feigums look forward to not only executing their missions, but building on their relationship in the expeditionary environment.