Back to Military Life

From pen pals to life mates - JBLM couple met in cyberspace

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon

While a keyboard and an Internet connection might have replaced the pen, paper and stamp in the digital age, the overall tenet of the pen pal relationship has remained the same.

And although the old fashioned lure of the opening of a love letter might not compare to clicking to open an email these days, the end result is still just as sweet.

Just ask Master Sgt. Bryce Van Devender, an Airman in the 627th Security Forces Squadron.

While deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, a little more than four years ago, Van Devender had established a pen pal relationship with a former high school classmate back in Oregon. When the friend said she didn't have time to keep up the relationship, she asked the Airman if he wouldn't mind exchanging emails from one of her friends who respected the military and its Servicemembers.

"I was like, ‘Yea, sure," he said. "I'm just sitting over there in Al Udeid. I'll talk to somebody."

That somebody eventually became his future wife, Rachel.

The correspondence started pretty basic.

"We got to know each other without the physical (attraction) first," Rachel said. "And just had a friendship first."

The two exchanged emails about their hopes for the future, every day happenings and things from their past.

"We talked on the phone every once in a while," Rachel said.

"There was chemistry there right from the start," Bryce added. "We liked the same things, we both had similar paths. We had the same interests. We also had the same sense of humor."

What began as five-minute talks became two-hour conversations, and the emails got longer and longer as the relationship developed over Bryce's six-month deployment.

"I got back and I wanted to meet her, of course," Bryce said with a laugh. "We just hit it off from there."

Things worked out perfectly, as Bryce was flying back home to Oregon visit family, and Rachel lived outside Portland.

"She met me off the plane and we went to dinner," the Airman said. "It was the first time we had met face-to-face. Eight months later we got married."

The couple got another stroke of luck, as Bryce was up for a permanent change of station move from Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. In the midst of their relationship, he received orders to McChord, a short drive from the Portland area. The couple eventually settled in Spanaway.

"It's nice because we're still close to family," said Rachel, who is close to earning her associate's degree in nursing from Tacoma Community College.

Having been married for a little more than three years now, the pen pal correspondence is something the couple reflects on often.

"It's important because the looks weren't the first thing that attracted us," said Bryce, an 18-year veteran. "It was (about) us as people and getting to know each other. It's given us a base for our marriage."

comments powered by Disqus