George and Kathy Doran are no strangers to being separated by time, distance and work. Before retiring in 2007, George traveled all over the world as a member of the Air Force. Although his wife, Kathy, typically moved from base to base with him, the couple did have to spend time apart during his military deployments years ago. But this year, their roles are reversed.
While George is at their home in Pennsylvania, Kathy, a Service to the Armed Forces Program Manager for the American Red Cross, is currently on a six-month deployment in Kuwait to provide support and services for members of the military stationed there. As a result, they’ll be spending Valentine’s Day apart for the first time in years.
We had the privilege of speaking with Kathy and George to learn more about their love story, careers and their experiences with deployment.
1: How did you and George meet, and how long have you been married?
Kathy: I met George in Colorado Springs while he was attending the Air Force Academy. He and his squadron friends were in a van, picking me and my friend up to attend a party. I recall he was very quiet, and as he stepped out of the van, he kept unfolding (he is over six ft. tall) and I thought, oh he is cute! In 2017, we celebrated 40 years of marriage, and he has not kicked me out yet!
2: How did you know that Kathy was the one for you?
George: How does anyone know it’s the one for them? It’s hard to tell, you know. After a few dates and meetings, every time you get together it gets better and better. One day it just hits you over the side of the head.
3: Kathy, how long have you worked with the Red Cross?
Kathy: I did my volunteer orientation in 1992 at Lakenheath in the UK. The time since then has been filled with both paid and volunteer experiences.
4: George, can you tell me a little about your military history and your deployment experience?
George: I graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1977. I went to pilot training, and my first assignment was in England. We stayed there for four years, and then I went through an exchange program with the Royal Air Force. We were in the UK for seven years. Then we moved to Las Vegas and Virginia. Then I went to Korea for a year while Kathy stayed home. We visited twice that year.
Later we moved back to England, and I did a lot of shorter deployments to Turkey. Then we moved to Carlisle, PA , for War College, then to Hawaii and to Texas a couple of times. And then we moved back to Carlisle. I retired in 2007 after 30 years.
5: How do you plan to stay connected or make each other feel special on Valentine’s Day when you are so far apart?
Kathy: My husband makes me feel special every day. This year, I sent him a card and I hope to be able to call him. With technology, we are able to stay connected via apps and our watches.
6: What will you miss the most about George while you’re in Kuwait?
Kathy: He is my rock, he is my better half….but you know, we are lucky, we have so many methods to keep in touch with each other, it is so much easier to keep connected now. I just have not figured out how I can give him advice on driving while we are apart.
7: Why do you think the work that Kathy is doing with the Red Cross important?
George: Having spent all the time in the military and seeing what the Red Cross does for the military all up and down the ranks. She’s been with the Red Cross doing SAF stuff for more than 20 years. I see firsthand all the good work that that part of the Red Cross does for the service members.
Obviously, I have a soft spot for the military so when she first talked to me about possibly going on this, I was totally supportive. And the deployed soldiers, they need it the most. They’re all in a strange location and all they’ve got are their military buddies. There’s no family over there and who knows where they’re going to end up. It’s a perfect place for her. It’s a perfect job for her. And I know she’s going to be great at it.
To learn more about how the Red Cross supports military members and their families, visit www.redcross.org.