Rebecca and Bobby

How We Met

Bobby and I are both active duty military members currently serving in the United States Coast Guard. We met in 2015 while stationed in Kodiak, Alaska. It’s pretty ironic that we met on a small island in Alaska, considering our hometowns on the east coast are only two and a half hours apart. I had been tasked by my supervisor to coordinate a career fair at the local high school. In hopes of showing the students how diverse the Coast Guard is, I sought out additional help from other service members in Kodiak. When most people think of the Coast Guard, they probably think of the movie “The Guardian”. This film gives a sneak peek into the extremely difficult training that rescue swimmers must endure. I planned to use Ashton Kutcher’s good looks to my advantage while somehow convincing high school students that the Coast Guard is cool. With my game plan established, I logged onto our global address book looking for help. Bobby happened to be the only rescue swimmer logged on at the time, so it made my decision on who to ask pretty easy. I messaged him explaining the situation with hopes he would agree to help me. Bobby responded and said that he would love to help, but had just recently graduated from training so he did not have any rescues to talk about.

I pondered the thought of seeking help from a different rescue swimmer who was more experienced. Later that day, Bobby asked one of our mutual friends why I had specifically emailed him and wondered if she had suggested it. When our friend said that she had not suggested it, Bobby sarcastically responded to her “She must have just heard about my devilishly good looks”. Let me tell you, rescue swimmers have a reputation for being a little cocky sometimes, so when I heard about this I instantly thought “oh great, just another cocky rescue swimmer”. Not interested in dealing with a big ego, I never emailed Bobby back!! Instead, I asked our mutual friend, whose husband was also a rescue swimmer, for help. She was happy to volunteer his services and life moved on for me. Fast forward to a couple days before the career fair, my replacement rescue swimmer came down with a cold. Would you believe it that the only other rescue swimmer available was this Bobby guy?? I accepted my fate and headed to the Career fair with an open mind. Bobby and I officially met for the first time at Kodiak high school, telling kids about how great of an opportunity the Coast Guard was. After spending three hours laughing and getting to know one another, we decided to hang out the next day. From that day on we were inseparable! Looking back, it’s hilarious how my initial impression of him was so off! He is anything but cocky and I am extremely lucky to have such a selfless man in my life. However, it sure does make for a funny story to tell our friends!

How He Asked

When people ask about how I proposed to Rebecca I tell them it was the same way a man normally proposes to a woman, she had me at gunpoint and I didn’t have any other option. Rebecca half laughs along and then makes me tell the real story that sounds more like this: After we met at the career fair, Rebecca and I started dating. She didn’t make things easy on me and transferred across the country to Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Suddenly we were in a long-distance relationship, separated by more than 3,500 miles and a four-hour time difference. The distance was challenging but helped us grow a lot and build a stronger foundation. We did a great job of planning trips to see one another every few months. It on one of these trips I planned to propose! We had planned to go down to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to spend a few days together and then drive up to Jupiter to spend some time with my Grandpa. When I decided that I was going to propose on this trip, I called her dad to see where he would be so I could meet him “to talk about Rebecca”. I thought it was safe to assume that he would be at home in Raleigh, North Carolina and I could make a stop on the way down to Florida. I was more than a little worried when he told me that he would actually be up in Cape Cod, finishing up a work trip and visiting Rebecca. I ran the different options through my head. I wanted the proposal to be a surprise and didn’t want her to suspect anything. However, it would be silly to fly into Cape Cod to meet her parents and then fly down to Florida separately for our planned vacation.

I decided that I would show up at her house unexpectantly after meeting with her parents, and hope that Rebecca just thought it was just a surprise. I got ahold of her flight itinerary and booked my flights to match hers, I was even able to book the seat next to hers. Knowing how diligent Rebecca is with planning, I went above and beyond to secure my surprise by sending her a fake flight itinerary from Alaska to Florida. Next, I had to make up excuses why I wouldn’t have my phone for the 24 hours that I would be flying east. Luckily, she bought my excuse that I was out fishing and wouldn’t have cell phone service. When I arrived in Boston I got a rental car and started the hour-long drive down to Cape Cod.

I discretely met with her parents for breakfast. After a great discussion, I received their blessing to marry their daughter. We wanted to keep Rebecca off our trail, so we decided to head back to her house at separate times. After stalling and driving around her neighborhood for about 10 minutes, I decided that I couldn’t wait any longer and called her. We chatted on the phone and she told me about her plans for the day. I asked her how our two dogs were doing, little did she know I was playing with them downstairs (haha!). She said she was getting ready for a cranberry festival that she was going to be going to with her parents. She began to get suspicious and asked why I was awake at six in the morning. I knew I had to make my move fast, so I started to walk up the stairs towards her room.

She opened her bedroom door and was completely surprised to see me standing there! Her next words were “Are we even going to Florida?!” I laughed and filled her in on all the details. The next day we headed down to Fort Lauderdale to enjoy some much-needed sunshine. To help cover up for the plans that I had already made, I suggested that we each plan a surprise day for one another. When my day came around, I decided that we would have a relaxing morning before I made my move. Unfortunately, post-hurricane Florida had other plans for me. With many businesses still recovering from the storm, the day turned into a series of frantic phone calls ensuring that everything was still on. I convinced her we had to get dressed up and found myself with another dilemma, I was wearing nice pants and a tucked in button-down shirt. Where was I going to hide a ring box? I decided the only option was to put the ring in my pocket by itself. I tossed around the idea of tying it to my belt loop with dental floss but knew she would see it. Instead, I was left with a combination of paranoia and hundreds of pocket checks. As we were headed to the restaurant, Rebecca was still completely in the dark about what I had planned for us. We entered an empty restaurant and waited for a moment before I showed her the real surprise.

I had arranged for a private gondola ride along the New River! The restaurant brought our food out and we opened up a bottle of wine. Of course, I ensured our ride would be at sunset to set the mood. The captain of the boat and I had previously conspired about where I should pop the question. After settling on a location by a banyan tree, we came up with a secret signal so I would know when it was time. Every time we passed a banyan tree I would look back at him and he would give me a slight smile and we would keep moving. I was getting worried that by the time we got there it would be too dark for any pictures and finally, there it was. In the distance, a huge, absolutely breathtaking banyan tree came into view and he looked at me and nodded. I checked for the millionth time to make sure the ring was still in my pocket and waited.

Our captain pulled the boat up to the tree and suggested that we head to the bow to take a picture. There it was the signal that I had been waiting for. For the minutes that followed I don’t remember breathing, but we walked out on the bow and took a few pictures. Then while she was smiling at the camera I pulled the ring out of my pocket with a death grip (deep dark water, even a Rescue Swimmer doesn’t want to deal with that) and dropped down to one knee. I told her that I love her and asked her to marry me and after a very well thought out list of stipulations she said yes. Just kidding, she said yes immediately and I slipped the ring onto her ring finger. We enjoyed the rest of the sunset on the way back down the river.

Special Thanks

Sacia Listenbee
Photographer