From our first blog post, you know Flash and Mookie met in Myrtle Beach in June of 1996. It was a nearly a long-distance relationship from that moment on until Marine Corps retirement in 2016. In 1995, Flash decided to join the Marine Corps not only to serve his country, but also to survive. They provided a bed for him to sleep in, three meals a day, and the discipline and work ethic it took to survive in everyday life. Mookie was a single mom, working two jobs, and going to school full-time working towards becoming an RN when they met.
Fast forward... Mookie graduated from nursing school in Ohio. Flash temporarily got out of the Marine Corps to live with Mookie in McHenry, Illinois (see 800 sq ft apartment in previous blog post with makeshift bedroom). Flash and Mookie decided the Marine Corps was where Flash needed to be for so many reasons (money, benefits, life skills, and comradery). Flash and Mookie moved to Swansboro, North Carolina where Flash was stationed at Camp Lejeune. Flash left for 3 months almost immediately after arriving (remind us to tell you about the new duplex they rented and the roach [house guest] situation). Flash then deployed for 6-9 months at a time many times during his career with most of the time in the states spent training for those deployments. Mookie spent her time working full-time as an RN first at a local hospital, and then went on to manage a local cardiology practice. She was also the cook, teacher, chauffeur, fun parent, disciplinarian, and everything in between because she had to be. (see tribute to the military spouse in a future blog post!)
Fast forward again... Flash got stationed in Okinawa, Japan. For the first time ever in 18 years, he received orders to PCS (permanent change of station)!!! With their oldest daughter, Ally, going into her Senior year of high school, never having to move her out of the school system she started in. Flash and Mookie had a huge decision to make: Move the entire family to Okinawa for 3 years OR send Flash by himself for 12 months?! They opted to send Flash on his own. While he was away, Ally received an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy aka a $400,000 college scholarship where you get paid to go to school, don't attain any debt from student loans, and have job security and benefits for at least five years after graduating! As a parent, it doesn't get much better than that... as a cadet, Ally, could give a better description of that (insert flashbacks of basic cadet training here). Luckily, Flash was able to return to the U.S. for Ally's high school graduation (anyone familiar with the military knows this is rare!... see future blog post of "I had your baby by myself while you were at war."
When Flash returned to Okinawa, it wasn't long before he received PCS orders AGAIN! With only 10 months spent in Okinawa and only 3 years left in the Marine Corps, Flash returned home to Mookie and their youngest daughter so they all could move across the country to San Diego, California for his final enlistment in the Marine Corps. While in San Diego, Mookie worked for an Integrative Medicine clinic in La Jolla with Torrey Pines as her work view, and Flash soaked in the pre-retirement lifestyle... by playing Mr. Mom to their youngest daughter, Mairin, earning an Associate’s degree, a Bachelors degree, and a Master's degree... Mookie was thinking Flash needed an alternative hobby other than school! But he didn't stop there! (earned Juris Doctorate while retiring, moving, and working as the best Cadre GORUCK has ever had!!) [Also dealing with TBI and other prior injuries (future blog post to come).]
Fast forward one last time... when it came time for Marine Corps retirement, Flash and Mookie had to make a choice... where do we go now?! They could have literally picked any place in the world. While they loved California, their entire family resides on the East coast. They found their way to Woodstock, Georgia. They found their way home.