By Rachel Morse, Multimedia Editor
Alyssa Bennett, dance performance senior, was a freshman when she met her fiancé Jake Mabry. After meeting through friends at a party, the former university wrestler and Lambda Chi Alpha member began expressing openly how he felt about Bennett.
“He wasn’t very shy about it at all,” she said. “We became best friends.”
A 2011 alumnus, Mabry studied Spanish at the university while going through the University of Central Oklahoma’s Army Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (ROTC).
After graduation Mabry traveled to Kentucky where he instructed cadets at Ft. Knox, Bennett said.
Still only friends, they communicated via Skype, texting and phone calls during their time apart, she said.
Mabry delivered a message to Bennett in summer 2011 outside Bishop W. Angie Smith Chapel.
“He told me, ‘I love you,’” Bennett said. “We were pretty much dating anyway.”
Mabry’s next assignment was Basic Officer Leadership Training (BOLC) at Ft. Sill in Lawton, Okla., Bennett said. His training prepared him for acceptance in to ranger school.
“It’s a really elite training program,” Bennett said. “It’s basically learning to lead people under the worst possible conditions.”
Mabry left for Fort Benning, Ga., in February 2012.
This summer, on a cliff on the Pacific Coast Highway in California, Maybry proposed.
“It was perfect,” Bennett said.
It was three weeks after when 2nd Sgt. Mabry received deployment orders to Afghanistan.
Mabry left Aug. 6 for a six-month tour stationed in Afghanistan. The assignment came prematurely for Bennett—a future that was difficult to accept.
“It’s hard not to get freaked out,” she said. “I’m very proud of him for what he’s doing, but at the same time, it’s very difficult.”
Mabry’s current assignment focuses on intelligence work, Bennett said. He works with intercepting information about terrorist activity before it happens, something he can’t really share with Bennett.
Their relationship has strengthened with the distance, she said.
“You hear about couples torn apart by deployment, but it’s made us so much stronger,” Bennett said. “We appreciate each other on a much deeper level.”
As Mabry transitioned into a lieutenant position on the field, Bennett said she has shifted her perspective on what’s important in her life back home.
“I used to get anxious about life in general,” she said. “Now I’m really trying to stay in the moment.”
Moments like when Mabry calls or even “the little things” mean so much more than they ever have, she said. Mabry’s impact on her life has continued, even now while he’s overseas.
“He’s the most resilient person I know,” she said. “As a friend, a student…everything.
“I really look up to him.”