Marissa Gessell and Nick Murphy will marry in 2013
By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
Marissa Gessell, Flensburg, and Nick Murphy, Little Falls, met in high school. She was a junior and he was a senior. They spoke on occasion, but weren’t dating when he called her out of the blue and told her he had enlisted in the Minnesota National Guard.
“I was a bit disappointed, even though we didn’t know each other well,” said Gessell. “I thought there could be more to our new friendship.”
They began dating after that phone call.
Murphy enlisted in November 2007, mostly because he wanted tuition to further his education. He did his basic training in July, after he graduated, where he became a signal support specialist in communications. He worked with radios and computers through advanced individual training. He finished in December 2008.
“I then went to St. Cloud State University for a year and a half until I was deployed in March of 2009,” said Murphy.
By then, Murphy and Gessell had been together for three years and were very much in love. After six weeks of schooling in Oklahoma, he was able to come home for two weeks. In May, he was sent to Camp Ripley for training, then Fort McCoy in Wisconsin for pre-mobilization training.
“From there I was able to come home for four days,” said Murphy. “At the end of July, I was off to Kuwait.”
“Marissa and I have not been together for more than two weeks at a time in the past year,” he said. “I regret not being here for her.”
Murphy said that when Marissa is sad, he cannot comfort her except through e-mails or Skype. When she had a flat tire, he couldn’t be there to change it for her.
Kuwait, said Murphy, has not a lot going on for it except sand. His living quarters were shared with eight other guys in an air-conditioned tent. One of his jobs was fixing radio systems on vehicles.
“I have been working 12-hour shifts, seven days a week,” said Murphy. “We would bring mail and food to the soldiers into Iraq, and bring equipment out.”
One of the last jobs Murphy performed for the First Combined Arms Battalion, Delta Company, 1-194 armor, a section of the Red Bulls, was to provide security for the draw down of troops out of Iraq.
Murphy enlisted for six years. After this two week period at home, he is going back to Kuwait. When that deployment is over sometime around May, he will have four and a half years in with the National Guard.
Murphy’s plans are to go back to school. He loves electronics and enjoys troubleshooting. He plans on a degree in the information technology field and wants to work with a government or a school system.
“If we can get through this, we can get through anything,” said Marissa. “Having Nick in Kuwait, not knowing if he’s OK at any one time, has been hard. But, the whole experience has made me more independent.”
Nick agreed, saying the time apart has made them stronger as a couple and he feels it has confirmed that the marriage is right for them.
“We are not rushing into a quick military wedding,” he said. They have been officially engaged for a year and been apart for most of that time.
Because military plans can change at any time, the couple is always prepared for the worst, then happy when it turns out OK.
Gessell and Murphy got engaged Jan. 21, 2011, at 11:30 p.m. Gessell will never forget the day.
“Nick was acting weird all day,” she said.
“I wanted to propose to her next to her favorite cow Lucky and her dog, but there was a blizzard going on outside,” he said. “She wouldn’t go outdoors. Even though I knew she would say ‘yes,’ I was still nervous.”
While Murphy is away, Gessell makes sure she has very little down time. She said she doesn’t want time to think about where he is.
Gessell is currently attending St. Cloud State University for a degree in public relations with a minor in marketing. She works in Crossroads Mall in St. Cloud and has an internship with Leighton Broadcasting. She belongs to several organizations, including Public Relations Student Society of America and the American Advertising Federation, and is on the university board that promotes concerts at the college.
Both Gessell and Murphy have dreams of beginning their life together in the Detroit Lakes area. It’s there they would like to raise a family.
“Everything happens for a reason,” said Murphy. “We have grown so much. While deployment put a damper on our plans, Marissa will be able to finish schooling so that when I return, I can concentrate on mine.”
“We are over the hard part now; it’s all downhill from here,” said Gessell.
Click on the link to see a video of the couple reuniting at the airport when Nick came home for his break. It can be viewed here — http://vimeo.com/34397408