I grew up my whole life around the military; my dad retired from the Navy after 20 years, my father in law retired from the Marine Corps after 30 years, and my brother spent four years in the Marines. When people ask me how I handle this lifestyle, I always answer honestly--this is the only thing I've ever known! But with that said, I definitely didn't always know that I would marry into the military and I definitely had no idea that Rob's path would lead us where it has. It is always easier to look back on life and realize why things played out the way they did but it takes a whole lot of faith to trust the path in the moment when you have no idea where it will lead you next.
Rob and I started dating in high school which means we weren't really thinking too much about the future. We went to rival colleges and did the long distance thing but the "real world" seemed a million years away and wasn't something we talked too much about. So when Rob called me our sophomore year in college and said he was dropping out of UVA and enlisting in the Marine Corps, it pretty much rocked my world. I really didn't believe him until the papers were signed and he was on a plane heading to boot camp. We spent the next three months communicating only through letters until that amazing day that I flew out to San Diego to see him graduate from bootcamp.
Unfortunately, we still had a few hard times left to go. After his 10 days of leave, Rob got back on a plane and headed to MCT in California and then to artillery MOS school in Oklahoma. After a year of training, he finally made it back to college in Virginia and spent one weekend a month at drill with the Marine Corps Reserves. But this wasn't Rob's long term plan. He spent his summers at OCS, went back to school, graduated from college, and commissioned in the Marine Corps as an officer.
We got married and he spent a year waiting to start TBS as a ground contract. He spent almost the entire six months thinking that he was going to be assigned a ground job but at the last minute received a competitive air contract and found out he was going to be a pilot. Another huge surprise but a wonderful blessing!
We packed up our stuff and moved to Pensacola where Rob went through primary flight school and was selected to become a jet pilot. Off we went again, this time to Meridian, Mississippi so Rob could attend intermediate and advanced jet training. Here, he will earn his wings and find out what type of jet he will fly for the rest of his career.
This is a completely unconventional path and I have no idea where the path will take us next. I do know that through all of this I have met the most wonderful, selfless service members and spouses. I have made friends in the most random of places and left pieces of my heart in various states across the US. I've learned how hard it is to say see you later but that the world is small and paths always cross again. I've learned that words like "family" and "home" are relative, and are not exclusive to blood or where you grew up. I am so grateful for this community and proud to stand next to my husband as he serves our country.
Happy Veteran's Day to those who have served, those currently serving, and those who love someone who has served. This world is a better place thanks to you!