Brian and Kara Soper: A military love story
Craig couple share bond of time in Army, service in Iraq
November 11, 2015
Brian and Kara Soper look back fondly on their time served in the United States military. Yes, it was a way for them to honor the nation they love, but it was also what helped them find love with one another.
The Craig couple, both veterans of the U.S. Army, first encountered each other stateside in 2003 in Boulder, coincidentally enough, right around Valentine's Day.
"He was the hottest one in the chow hall, and I saw him right away but I pretended like I didn't notice him," Kara laughed.
It was that summer they were both deployed overseas as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, part of the 244th Engineer Battalion with the 4th Infantry Division, though in different platoons, Brian working with heavy equipment and Kara an engineer specializing in carpentry and masonry.
The two shared many of the same motivations for being in the armed forces, particularly family tradition. Brian's grandfather was a Merchant Marine and his father, five uncles and two brothers all served, as well.
Kara's father was in the Army during the Vietnam War, part of the same Infantry Division his daughter would eventually join.
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"He's really proud," she said of her dad.
Amid the Middle East theater for roughly 300 days, the Sopers had periods where they were apart for long stretches, sending love letters through a courier service.
"It was a pretty different courtship because you see each other in the worst conditions, so if you can make it through that, everything else is pretty much cake," Brian said.
Soldiers hailing from Northwest Colorado were people they got to know well, including Moffat County High School graduate Mark Lawton, who was killed in action in August 2003 during an ambush that also injured Craig resident Tyler McWilliamswho was killed in action in August 2003 during an ambush that also injured Craig resident Tyler McWilliams, also a friend of the Sopers., also a friend of the Sopers.
who was killed in action in August 2003 during an ambush that also injured Craig resident Tyler McWilliams, also a friend of the Sopers.
Neither Kara nor Bryan was seriously wounded during their time in Iraq, describing most of the action involving "small arms and mortars," though Kara contracted the parasite leishmaniasis for which she narrowly avoided chemotherapy treatments leading up to their wedding, which took place Sept. 24, 2004.
These days, Kara, a staff sergeant when she was discharged, is a medical technician for The Memorial Hospital, while Brian, who finished his time in the Army as a sergeant, holds the same rank within the Craig Police Department, having been an officer since 1998.
The couple also has two daughters, ages 8 and 7.
Veterans Day is an occasion that the Sopers are happy to share as fellow soldiers, especially with the kind of distance that can come between spouses when one has experienced warfare the other can't fully appreciate.
"We both agreed that coming back was the hardest part, getting back into civilian life, and we both told each other that we were fortunate we had each other," she said.