From letters to calls, couple talks about life in service

From letters to calls, couple talks about life in service
(Photo submission) Joseph with his wife, Muscogee (Creek) citizen Stacy Pratt at their wedding (left) and now after serving 23 years in the U.S. Army, they are enjoying every second they have together now that he is retired.

While separated during deployment, couple’s love only gets stronger

Darren DeLaune/Reporter

OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — From being acquaintances in a band to a couple and now husband and wife, Joseph and Stacy Pratt could tell a lifetime of stories of how their relationship began and to where it is now.

Joseph grew up near the Eufaula, Oklahoma area in Stidham while Muscogee (Creek) citizen, Stacy, grew up in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

The Pratt’s met out of high school when they were in a band.

“He was a drummer and I was a guitar player,” Stacy said.

They were both in college before he joined the U.S. Army in 1995. Even during that time Stacy continued going to college.

Joseph had been at different bases throughout the U.S. and some overseas while Stacy was pursuing her degrees at different universities.

“We have been all over the place,” Stacy said.

Most people usually have one member of the family serving, while the other one would be at home and for the Pratt’s it was no different.

“We were separated a lot while he was on deployment,” Stacy said. “Literally every other year of our marriage he has been deployed.”

Stacy said they were away from each other almost as much as they were together.

“Even when he was home, he would still have to go to training and that could be for a month or three months at a time,” Stacy said. “You are separated a lot.”

They said as a military family it can be hard being away from each other.

“We were used to it,” Stacy said.

Joseph said both understood the separation that they would be dealing with while he was serving in the armed forces. He was in various types of infantry throughout his time in the Army.

“It was understood, or at least we thought we understood that there would be separation between us,” Joseph said.

While today’s technology has made it easier for everyone to stay in touch and be able to communicate with each other, the Pratt’s continued to stay in touch through letters or what was called, ‘snail mail.’

“Our relationship was founded on letters, phone calls and brief visits,” Stacy said. “The letters were romantic since we were both writers.’”

Joseph said Stacy would give her some of the best letters.

“Double spaced letters telling me everything that was going on with her,” Joseph said. “Six to seven pages.”

He also said in his response to the seven page letters she would get something scribbled with about two sentences on it.

“My letters were written under a red flashlight during a time when we could not write them,” Joseph said.

Stacy warned him that she would talk about everything so he would know she is doing.

“Everything to the minute detail,” Stacy said. “It would probably be annoying in real life but a letter it is ok.”

He said there were times when he could write more, but he was happy that he could get something out to her, no matter how small.

It was during the Iraq War when Joseph and Stacy decided to get married. Joseph was on leave and both decided it was the best opportunity.

“He ended up getting injured in Iraq, and we thought that we needed to get married soon,” Stacy said.

After they were married and his leave was over, he returned to Iraq while she finished her schooling in Mississippi.

It was when Joseph was based in Italy is when Stacy joined him.

During their communication when they were away from each other, they both had code words to give one another for things that happened.

“Words like ‘great’ or ‘super’ which meant something happened, but I will tell you about it later,” Stacy said.

She said she would worry about him but could not let it consume her. There were times for her when she would be returning home and hope that there was not a car parked at her place.

“Even if there was a car that I did not know, I would be worried until they stepped out and it was not a chaplain,” Stacy said.

Joseph and Stacy recalled a time when he could call home, and she was at church in Dustin and when she answered the phone the horn for church blew.

“And during that time you have to stop moving, and he heard the horn blow while he was in Afghanistan,” Stacy said. “It was a very beautiful moment because it brought him there with us.”

When the Pratt’s would have their time together, their friends would say that they acted like newlyweds when they were around.

“We basically were newlyweds,” Stacy said.

Joseph retired from the armed forces after serving over 23 years as Sergeant First Class.

Now they see each other every day and are getting used to that. Stacy is a full-time freelance writer and will be teaching at College of Muscogee Nation in Spring 2019 while Joseph is doing something else.

“I try to keep the force balanced,” Joseph said. “She tries to do so much while I try to do as little as possible.”

He said he is learning the Mvskoke language and is in the process of being Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET) certified.

“Outside of that I read and relax,” Joseph said.

Both of them said they kept all the letters that they have sent to each other over all these years.

“I have two boxes full of letters,” Joseph said. “She was my big supporter when I was deployed.”

Joseph and Stacy said through everything that has happened they would not change a thing.

“It has made our marriage stronger,” Stacy said.

Although Joseph has only been out of the service for a short time, he said he is loving being home and being back with the love of his life.

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