Molly Swanson was simply planning ahead.
In 2017, she was serving as the summer school principal at Horne Elementary School. An assistant principal at Rennell Elementary School, Swanson needed to be off on July 17, so she made sure to communicate with Stephanie Thomas, the building principal at Horne since 2012.
Swanson’s son Seth, a 2017 graduate from Cypress Lakes High School, was leaving home that day for the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, Calif.
To her surprise, Swanson soon found out she wasn’t alone.
“It was at that time that she told me that her son would be leaving for MCRD just a few weeks after Seth,” Swanson said.
Thomas’ son, Michael Longpre, a 2017 graduate from Langham Creek High School, also enlisted in the U.S. Marines. Both he and Swanson attended boot camp in San Diego, Calif. at the same time, albeit in different companies. The two join numerous CFISD graduates and alumni to receive appointments to attend United States service academies or enlist in the military.
Pfc. Swanson is currently stationed at Camp Pendleton, Calif., with I Marine Expeditionary Force, 1st Marine Logistics Group Combat Logistics Regiment 15.
Pfc. Longpre is currently stationed at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center near Twentynine Palms, Calif. with 1st Battalion, 7th Marines.
Back home, Swanson and Thomas have bonded with each other in shared experiences as a “MoM” – Mom of Marine.
“The support and strength found in the friendship with another ‘MoM’ has been incredible,” Thomas said. “For Michael, having a fellow Marine and friend from home in CFISD has been a strong support system as well. It is a bond, a brotherhood, that is stronger than most people could ever understand.”
Added Swanson: “It was a comfort to both of us to know that we would have someone to talk to and lean on through this process. That we weren’t alone and could provide support and strength to each other. Stephanie and I text often and always catch up on what the boys are doing when we see each other at meetings.”
Seth and Michael got to know each other through their time spent at the Marine Corps Recruiting Sub-Station Willowbrook and training sessions used to prepare future servicemen for boot camp. Michael would routinely tell Thomas about “Swanson,” while Seth told his mother about a fellow recruit known as “Mikey.”
Their stories draw similar parallels.
Seth’s brother is also a Marine, as was his stepfather. His grandfather served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.
“I grew up around it,” he said. “It kind of fit my personality and I haven’t looked back since I joined.”
Michael’s grandfather attended the U.S. Naval Academy and served in the Air Force, while two uncles also served – one a Marine himself. A visit from a recruiter at Langham Creek left an impression.
“That’s when the thought of being a Marine became more possible to me and a good stepping point for the rest of my life,” Longpre said.
They became more acquainted in preparing for boot camp, also doing so with others from CFISD and other neighboring districts.
Now living their everyday lives as Marines, both said they’ve enjoyed getting to their duty stations, learning their jobs and being part of a team. They’re challenged daily.
But that connection to home is closer than the distance may indicate, whether it’s through a fellow CFISD graduate or communication with family.
“Home is never too far away,” Swanson said.
And for the mothers, they share their admiration in watching their sons take on this part of their lives and what it means.
“There are no words to describe the pride I feel knowing that I have raised a son who has made the sacrifice to serve and protect his country,” Molly said.
Said Thomas: “They say that where there is no struggle, there is no strength. The struggles that our sons are facing together to defend our freedom have brought these two CFISD families together to provide strength and support for each other.”