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In their own words
Couple met while deployed to Iraq
3 In their own words-Rawlstons pic1
Dee and Jimmy Rawlston met while stationed with the U.S. Armys 101st Airborne Division in Kuwait en route to fight the war in Iraq. They are married and live in Dawsonville with daughter Lauren. - photo by For the Dawson Community News

Seeking nominations

Nominations are currently being accepted for upcoming segments in the Dawson Community News that will profile local men and women who have served or are currently serving in our nation's military.

Told "In Their Own Words," the series feature stories brought to life by active military personnel and veterans from Dawson County.

The weekly stories will lead up to Dawson County's seventh annual Veterans Day ceremony and parade Nov. 11 in downtown Dawsonville.

Nominations can be sent to P.O. Box 1600 Dawsonville, GA 30534, dropped by the office at 514 Academy Ave. in Dawsonville or e-mailed to editor@dawsonnews.com.

Stationed in Kuwait in 2005 on the way to Iraq, two soldiers with the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division met for the first time at an Internet café.

The next day Dee Rawlston called home and told her mother she had met the man she would marry.

"It was love at first sight," Rawlston said. "It's amazing what can happen when you're overseas. It was just kind of fate. Who knew I'd have to travel across the world to find him."

Now living in Dawsonville, Dee and Jimmy Rawlston married when they returned home from Iraq.

"It ended up being a very tough deployment. We lost a lot of good soldiers, friends of ours, but we found each other," Dee Rawlston said.

Originally from Pennsylvania, Dee Rawlston joined the military to follow in the footsteps of her grandfather Adam Kriser, a World War II veteran.

"My family instilled pride, and to serve our country was a great honor," she said. "I just felt that was my calling and something I needed to fulfill in my life."

She served for seven years as a counter intelligence agent before receiving a medical discharge in 2007 due to injuries she sustained during her military career. After her discharge, Dee Rawlston continued her service at a local women's shelter.

"I went to work for NOA [No One Alone], because I figured if I could no longer serve my country, I could serve the community in which I live," she said. "It was a wonderful experience."

She is now fighting what could be an even tougher battle than she or her husband saw during their years in combat. In June 2010, she was diagnosed with acute lymphatic leukemia, which is being treated with chemo therapy.

Jimmy Rawlston said his reason for enlisting was quite different than his wife's.

Growing up in Tennessee, he was more interested in hunting and fishing than anything going on at school.

"My dad gave me an option to go to the Army or go to college and pay rent," he said. "I figured I'd go in and I'd do three years and see what it was about."

He retired in 2010 with the ranking of sergeant first class after spending 20 years as an infantryman with Army Ranger units.

"I like the fact that (the military) is one of the few places that has standards. It teaches standards and responsibility and that's what I enjoyed about it," he said. "I think it would be a great opportunity for anybody to do just for the simple fact that it teaches discipline and structure and responsibility and I think our community as a whole, not just Dawsonville but everywhere, could use a little bit more of that."

Jimmy Rawlston is now working in law enforcement where he's found a similar discipline structure. A jailer for the Dawson County Sheriff's Office, he plans to continue his new career by enrolling in the academy to become a certified officer.

While the couple has moved past their military careers, they said they will always hold their service and that of other soldiers close to their hearts.

"We send out our deepest condolences to all the families that have given the ultimate sacrifice. We truly appreciate all the soldiers, men and women, that defend our great nation and continue to provide the freedoms in which we have today," Jimmy Rawlston said.

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