By Mollie Miller, 1st Inf. Div. Public AffairsFebruary 13, 2012
With nearly 600 "likes" and more than two dozen notes of support, Sgt. Anthony and Megan Petrola were named the winners of the 1st Infantry Division's inaugural Best BRO Love Story Facebook Contest Jan. 30.
While division public affairs personnel were somewhat surprised by the high number of votes and outpouring of support for the Petrolas, the clear contest victory didn't come as much of a shock to the young couple from Boston -- Megan and Anthony have known their love story is something amazing pretty much since they met Dec. 16, 2007.
"It was just like 'bam,'" Anthony said of the first time he spoke to his future wife during a gathering of mutual friends. "It was awesome and ever since that night we have been inseparable."
The immediate connection was mutual according to Megan.
"The first time we talked, it really was like we had known each other for a long time," she said. "I know that sounds corny because that's what everyone says but that is exactly how it was."
The couple's first conversation, which included an invitation from Anthony to watch "The Lion King" back at his apartment, quickly led a first date and a nearly immediate understanding that they could be themselves around each other.
"There were never any walls up," Megan said.
For Anthony, the knowledge that Megan was "a little weird" just like him gave him a clear understanding within their first month together that she was going to be his wife.
"Megan is the only person who I feel comfortable enough with to talk about anything and that is how it has been since day one," he said.
Talking is something the Petrolas do very well and that clear communication has been key for them during the past few years of parenthood, financial struggles and Army life.
"Communication is huge, especially when you are an Army couple," Anthony said. "Every decision you make affects both of you."
Last year, when Anthony deployed to Afghanistan with the division's 4th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment when the couple's first child, Audrina, was just six months old, Megan said her communication skills were put to the test. Over the phone or via Skype, the couple worked hard to support each other through the long days of a challenging separation.
"I knew that I needed to be strong in that situation," Megan said. "I knew I had to put on a happy face for him and know that he was going to go out and do what he needed to do and that he had the training to get through it."
Having someone like Megan on the other end of the phone or computer during the deployment made Anthony's time downrange a little easier, he said.
"She is just willing to listen and that is huge," the 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team Soldier said. "Some people just don't know how to listen but she does and that makes a big difference."
Anthony said that no matter what life has thrown at them, he and Megan have always been able to work through the challenges by keeping communication lines open and consciously doing things to make each other happy. Little things like coming home with a favorite snack or taking time for an out-of-the-blue I love you "mean a lot," Anthony said.
Megan agreed and added that every day is a new opportunity to make your relationship even better than before by adding in an extra long hug or taking the time to really listen to what your partner is saying.
"Love is a tricky thing you have to work at every day," Megan wrote in her contest submission. "I plan to work on my love story until the very end of time."
Although the couple's future remains a bit uncertain, there are some things that are absolutes. Audrina will not be an only child, the couple will make the decision whether or not to stay in the Army together and, every night when Anthony walks in the door after work, he will look at the woman who caught his eye more than four years ago and be amazed at how beautiful she is… and that she picked him.
"She is such a good-hearted person," he said. "I'm so glad I waited for the right one."