Army officers, wives form lifelong friendship through recruiting duty
May 22, 2013
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Two Army captains who forged a lifelong friendship and started their families after they met at the Sacramento Recruiting Battalion are finding themselves just a few hours apart with new assignments on the East Coast.
Capt. Jamie Grymes, a native Floridian, and Capt. Jeffrey Mennicke, a mid-Western guy hailing from Wisconsin came to the battalion within five months of each other. Grymes was assigned to the Sacramento Battalion in December 2009 and Mennicke was assigned in May 2010. Mennicke and Grymes met socially at a company party and found common ground early in their assignments. Both were close to the same age, sports fans and eager to start a family.
The first time the four went out as couples was in June 2010. Grymes, his wife, Paige, and Mennicke and his wife, Nicole, quickly formed a friendship and continued to do after-work activities. Both Grymes and Mennicke talked about becoming dads: Mennicke unsure if he was prepared for the role and Grymes really looking forward to fatherhood. When the Mennickes found out Nicole was pregnant, Mennicke didn't want to call Grymes because he knew how much Grymes was looking forward to being a dad.
"When I did call him, he was actually on vacation in Florida," Mennicke said. "Right after I told him, he said, 'Oh, yeah. Well guess what? We are pregnant, too.' It was just a crazy story how it all happened." Jeffrey Johnathan Mennicke was born in July 2011, followed by Jackson Beaugh Grymes three weeks later.
After both couples welcomed their first boys in 2011, just three weeks apart, they are now expecting boys with weeks of each other again this summer.
The boys have formed a bond as well. They play together weekly, either at play dates or activities such as the Children's Museum. When Jackson and Jeffrey were first started hanging out, they didn't have much to do with each other, said Mennicke. They would play with their own toy and be distracted.
"Although it was funny because each time after they hung out, one would learn something new the other one was doing," Mennicke said. "If Jeffrey was getting up and Jackson wasn't, they would hang out and the next week Jackson would do it. Jackson started sitting up, they hung out, and then Jeffrey would start doing it. It was so funny to watch."
"If Jeffrey is playing with his tool bench, Jackson wants to play with the tool bench or if Jackson is playing with a ball, then Jeffrey wants to play ball," said Paige Grymes. "As they've gotten older, they now acknowledge each other more and interact more together."
Nicole and Paige have formed a close friendship, as well.
"Having gone through the exact same stages of our pregnancies and our new babies was a huge help for me," said Nicole. "Giving and getting advice or cool products or toys to buy has been a blessing."
Nicole said it warms her heart seeing the two boys together because it takes her back on the overall journey.
"From friends doing trips and game days, to pregnant moms sharing tips to battle heartburn, to lost first-time moms trying to figure out how to raise a newborn, and now to have two healthy, happy boys playing together so well," she said.
Paige feels very blessed to have the Mennickes as friends.
"Jackson was a very colicky baby. Nicole recognized I was wearing thin and needed some time away from the constant crying," said Paige. "She insisted (more than once) that she and Jeff watch Jackson so that Jamie and I could have quiet time together to relax and regroup. All the while, they had their own newborn."
Mennicke said it is great having a friend you can call to help out when your family is 3,000 miles away. "I think going through this together has really been helpful because we each know what the other is going through and can rely on each other for help and support," he said.
"Being so far away from family and friends, it was so amazing to make such an instant connection so early in our move here. Then we got to create three years of memories together that I will never forget, and made family away from family," said Nicole as she summed up the friendship. "We celebrated many holidays, home team victories, and explored California together, but also were there for those tough times that you just need support or a helping hand."
Sacramento Battalion said goodbye to the Grymes family in May when they headed to the College of William and Mary, where Jamie will get his master's degree. After he receives his degree, he will teach math at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. In June, the battalion will bid farewell to Nicole and Jeffrey Mennicke as they head to Fort Jackson, S.C., to attend the Adjutant General Captains' Career Course, with a follow-on assignment as a company commander and adjutant to Fort Belvoir, Va.
"Our duty stations are only a few hours away," said Grymes. "Out of all the places the Army could have sent us we were fortunate enough to be within a few hours drive."