We are proud of our children. Naturally, their achievements are precious to us. We love seeing them make the right choices and grow into responsible, virtuous adults. But, the true test of the pudding – the litmus test, if you will – is when your child turns around and surprises you. Really surprises you.
Staff Sergeant Wrashea Hubbard – Shea – was born in Fairfax, Virginia in 1981. By the time she reached Glenn Hills High School as a teenager, she had lived in the state of Washington, Germany, Japan and Alaska. As a child Wrashea was quiet and her mother Lenora, the Unit Funds Coordinator for the Family and MWR Support Services Division, was thrilled to discover Shea’s talent for penning poems exploring the themes of faith and a higher power. “It wasn’t until she was in her teen years that I realized she was into poetry. That’s why she kept to herself; she was always writing.”
Wrashea went through ROTC; as she neared the end of her high school years, the travel bug started to make her feet itch. After considering her options, she sat down with her folks and talked military careers.
Wrashea Hubbard entered basic training for the Air Force on November 12, 2002. After graduating in December of the same year, Wrashea embarked upon a career that has taken her to Italy, Germany, Japan and beyond. And while Lenora has never been surprised when her daughter does the right thing – that was how she was raised – recently her daughter exceeded all expectations.
When Operation Enduring Freedom took her to Afghanistan, Wrashea asked Air Force pilot Colonel Damon Reynolds to take a flag she had brought out on a flight over the desert in honor of her two uncles – Lenora’s brothers – who had passed away that year. The older of the two brothers, Ronald, had served in the Air Force too. The flag was to be dedicated to Wrashea’s grandmother, Cora Hubbard – Lenora’s mother. The pilot obliged and in November of 2012 Shea gave the flag and certificate to Lenora to pass along to an unsuspecting Ms. Cora.
Unable to surprise Ms. Cora with the presentation of the flag and a certificate at Christmas, Lenora made plans to travel to her mother’s home in Virginia to give them to her over Valentine’s Day weekend. It was a family secret inside a family secret! And it didn’t end there – and neither did Wrashea’s thoughtfulness.
When Lenora made plans to go up to Virginia to visit her mother, Shea arranged for her mother to stay at the Hilton over the weekend. In a suite on the 29th floor. With room service, massage and whatever else Lenora desired. It was such a wonderful experience for the mother of two; Lenora’s feet didn’t touch the ground again for a while! “I had no idea it was going to be such an experience!” she told me.
It also set the tone for the rest of the weekend. Lenora was thrilled to surprise her own mother with the flag and certificate, thanks to her wonderfully thoughtful daughter. Numerous personal details and neat coincidences made the surprise presentation even more special. For instance, the ties between Shea and her grandmother: Shea’s birthday is June 10; while Cora’s birthday is June 15. What holiday is between them? Flag Day, which happens to be the birthday of Shea’s brother, DJ. From the Hilton where Lenora stayed, she could see the old homes of her two brothers.
Since first speaking with Lenora about Wrashea’s thoughtful gifts and actions, Wrashea has also ensured her other family members are included. Much to their astonishment, they too received flags and certificates. Lenora was overwhelmed at her daughter’s considerate actions and gifts. She calls her a “good girl” and beams when she says her name (they have the same big, beautiful smile!) She shows me photos and videos of her Shea, and I can tell she was so astonished and delighted by her surprise stay at the Hilton – it had been just what Lenora needed.
But I don’t think anyone would expect anything less from Wrashea Hubbard. After all, she was raised that way.