Happy Military Appreciation Month!

I am recognizing someone in my life associated with the military everyday. Today, I am recognizing my friend GSMC Frank Kortze. Frank joined the US Navy in 1977.  He grew up in Philadelphia and brought a little piece of home with him on his Naval career; Dina. A 5”2, passionate, beautiful Italian, Dina was the perfect Ying to the Yang of Frank’s tall, blonde Polish presence. I met Frank when my husband served on the USS Briscoe. More accurately, I met Frank’s wife, felt an instant connection to with her as a military spouse managing a house and family and I was hooked. Frank came with the package, lol.  I grew to love and respect  Frank as much as his wife.

He spent his career on various Destroyers; the USS Conolly, the USS Chandler, the USS Peterson, and the USS Briscoe. Frank, like Jack was an Engineer, which means he is of little use to the military at a shore billet.  In his 20 year career, Frank spent 14 years out to sea. Dina used to joke that he did a separate deployment for each of his children, all 5 of them.

I am one of ten children, the noise of a big family is the sound of home. Over our ten + years together we built memories, raised kids and cursed ship’s movement. The Kortze’s often left me awed. Their household operated like a well oiled machine. Dance classes, scouts, church choir, band, and honor rolls- the accomplishments of their children were nothing less than astounding.  Raising good kids is hard work. Frank is a passionate man, and like my father had little patience with a bad work ethic or lame excuses.  Frank held himself to the same expectations as he did  his team, do your job &  do it right. He wasn’t there to make friends he was there to  work hard so he could get back to what really mattered his family.  Last summer, we flew back to Virginia to attend the wedding of Frank’s oldest daughter, Katie. A prouder man there never was. I watched him as he looked out over the fabulous wedding that Dina had pulled together- creating center pieces, bridesmaids bouquets and keepsakes each with the special Dina flair that would give Pintrest followers  envy- watching his boys as they attended to the elderly guests and friends alike, his daughters as they danced like magical beings on the dance floor and  his wife as she charmed each and every guest. He was the happiest I have ever seen him. The thing you need to know about Frank is this; it wasn’t for the love of the Navy that Frank put up with all the sacrifice, the time away, that came with his rate, – it was to provide a better life for his wife and kids. Frank is at the core of his being a family man.  Frank retired from the Navy in 1997. He turned down many opportunities that perhaps could have be more but would cost the one thing he would not negotiate time away from his family.

When I see Frank now, I see a different man- relaxed, smiling and with happiness in every cell of his body. Frank and Dina have raised 5 amazing, successful compassionate children.  The took another child under their wing and have given him the same love, guidance and support they have shown their own children.  Raising your children in the military is always a challenge. You often move, change schools, parent alone and with little money. For me, my decade in Virginia would have been very different if I hadn’t been blessed with meeting Frank and Dina.  They are a major part of our family and I feel privileged to have them in my life. The greatest friends are made when you look over and say- “Really? You too? I thought I was the only one.  “

I am grateful to have had you along for the ride. You both are forever in my heart.