Uniforms & Lingerie features interviews with military service members and veterans who share their relationship experiences while serving our country. Some of these stories have happy endings. Some of them don’t. But they’re real. Make sure you’re following my blog to hear all the stories our service members and veterans have agreed to share. Today, we’ll hear from Kayelle Allen, US Navy Veteran who is now a romance author.
Your military service
What did you do?
I was an Avionics Technician (AT) in the US Navy, a “tweet”. I fixed TACAN (tactical air navigation), which is the equipment pilots use to get from point A to B. For the first half of my tour, I removed non-working black boxes from the plane and replaced them with working ones. During the second half, I worked in the facility where the Navy sent those boxes. We followed a script to troubleshoot and fix, then ship back. If we couldn’t fix them, we forwarded them to a more advanced facility.
Describe your typical day.
During the first half of my tour, I worked in a squadron. I’d go in at 0700 and get off at 1500 (7 am to 3 pm), five days a week. Occasionally an inspection or event occurred outside those hours. Most of the day consisted of waiting for something to break. Believe me, that gets boring. In my shop, we kept busy with training or cleaning, but the days were long. The advantage was I got to know people I worked with. We had plenty of time to talk. In my time, women did not go aboard ship, so although I visited the one my husband was assigned to, I never served at sea.
Your military romance
Tell us about that special guy.
When I was assigned to my first duty station in Memphis, I was told there were 400 men to every woman on the base. I dated one person and had a nice time, but then I meant the man I eventually married and never had an interest in anyone else.
We met in training right after boot camp. He had noticed me, and told me much later that when he saw me, he knew instantly I was “the one.”
By chance, we joined the Navy on the same day, which meant we got out the same day too. He was from Alaska and I was from Nevada, so not sure we’d have ever met otherwise. We were born three days apart and had a great deal in common.
What was his job?
He was an aviation hydraulics repair tech (AH) a “bubble chaser”. He worked on anything having to do with hydraulics and frequently came home smelling of gear lube and hydraulic fluid.
How did you two meet?
We had both been assigned to NAS Millington just outside Memphis, TN. We had an on-base orientation class together. He was sitting all the way in the back, but I was in the front row. I had been issued Navy glasses and had broken them the day before. I sat up front so I could see. I had no idea who else was in the room. It was about half the day, and I was in and out of there fast. He saw me walking on the base that weekend, and said, “Hello, Beautiful.” I was not impressed, and responded, “What did you call me?” as if he’d said something unkind. LOL He restated it to something less “pick-up” and started walking beside me. I was thinking, “Who is this guy?” but when he asked where I was headed, I told him I was going to the Navy Exchange, and if he wanted to go with me, I’d buy him a Coke.
He had no idea this was a test. If he’d responded that he’d buy me one instead and been macho about it, I’d have dropped him without a second thought. I was on my own, excited and proud to be in the military, at my first duty station, and I was not going to have anything to do with a man who didn’t respect me. But he gave me a measuring look, and then said, “Sure.” I can still picture us sitting in that little café, talking, drinking soda out of paper cups. I never dated anyone else. He finished training a few months before I did and was sent to San Diego. I was fortunate to be stationed in the same city.
What attracted you to him?
Two things. He respected and listened to me, and he had a great sense of humor. He found ways to do things for me that were small but meaningful. Like bringing me a handful of daisies he’d picked. He could have gotten roses and been all dashing about it, but instead, he offered me simple things in a way that was just charming.
What was it like when you first started dating?
Once, he was supposed to pick up a rental car so we could drive into Memphis. He was late picking me up, and I was starting to get irritated, but I noticed he was walking across a big field toward me. He had his hands in front of him and was turning them back and forth. I had no idea what this crazy man was doing, but I waited for him. When he reached me, he was making “vroom vroom” noises, and he was miming driving a car. He told me the cars had been sold out, so he was picking me up in his “foot car.” I pretended to go around, get in, and off we went, walking, making new plans for the evening.
What was your married life like in the military?
We were like any married, working couple. We got up, got dressed, kissed, and went out the door to separate duty stations. We lived in San Diego, CA. He was stationed at NAS Coronado, and I was at NAS Miramar. I had gone to see a counselor about a situation at work and liked his style. One time when hubby and I argued, I mentioned it, and the counselor suggested that next time, I bring my spouse. What that man taught us was how to fight. We learned we would always disagree. That was natural. But, if you know how to express disagreement without resorting to yelling at one another, it’s far more peaceful. That’s true in any relationship. Knowing how to express what you’re feeling and being willing to listen to how the other person feels can keep you in step, both in and out of military life. It’s kept ours going strong for forty-six years. I’m sure that counselor would be proud. And knowing us, more than a little surprised.
In what ways is a relationship in the military different from one in civilian life?
We had no choice about quitting. If you didn’t like where you were assigned, it was just tough. You went where you were ordered. You could leave a civilian job if you didn’t want a transfer, but we were stuck. Which is why we both left the service after the first tour. One of us was going to Japan and the other to the Bahamas, and neither of us could go with the other if one of us got out. We felt that was no way to raise a family. Being married in the military is more of a sacrifice than most people realize.
Are there benefits in military relationships that may not apply to those in civilian life?
We understand each other in ways a civilian or military/civilian partnership can’t. During events where veterans are asked to identify themselves (Veteran’s Day, etc.). I’m always proud to stand. I love that my husband is beside me. Another plus is we both have medical benefits through the VA. My husband has a service-connected disability and receives a pension. But more than that, we’re proud we served together. It’s an honor neither of us takes lightly.
What challenges do you face in military relationships that may not apply to those in civilian life?
You can’t change jobs to be with a spouse who gets a job in a new city. You do what’s good for the military, not you.
Was there a time during your relationship when you had to be separated?
We hated the thought of being separated. We got married to be together. We did our duty, but we decided we’d rather be together than end up serving apart. Because we’d joined the same day (not knowing each other) we were getting out the same time. To be together, we ended our enlistment.
No. As my husband often counsels, “Don’t look back. You’re not headed in that direction.” Full speed ahead.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your relationship?
We met in Memphis in July and married in December. A whirlwind courtship that spun into a lifelong partnership.
I was released from the service one month early because I was pregnant. When hubby got out, we transitioned into civilian life expecting a new baby. Not easy, but oh so worth it.
A Stolen Heart
Release date May 11, 2020
An abandoned half-human child. An immortal warrior whose villainous past keeps him in hiding. Two monsters in need of a family…
A Stolen Heart transports science fiction fans to the fantastic Tarthian Empire in the distant future; a wealthy but deliciously seedy corner of the galaxy. Here, powerful immortals comingle with genetically-enhanced humans and animals, aliens and androids, conspiracies abound, and secret societies are commonplace.
After rescuing a half-alien / half-human child who’s running for his life on the planet Kelthia, a glorified space pirate turned entrepreneur named Luc Saint-Cyr stumbles onto a conspiracy at the highest levels of the powerful Thieves’ Guild.
Complicating matters, the king–Luc’s immortal ex–might be involved.
As if that’s not enough, an unseen enemy is undoing every good thing Luc accomplishes.
But, when it comes time to give up the child to a family who can adopt him, how will Luc bear to part with the adorable little boy who has stolen his heart?
A standalone novel in the Antonello Brothers series.
Can’t wait? Review now on Story Origin or BookSprout.
Kayelle Allen: Art, Sci-Fi, Space Opera, Romance
Kayelle Allen writes science fiction and space opera with larger than life, unforgettable characters. Come walk in her worlds and meet her misbehaving robots, mythic heroes, immortal gamers, and warriors who purr.