Veteran Loupe followed family footsteps in military
A Claims Rep II in Risk Management at Gulf Power, she served four years in the U.S. Navy. Her ex-husband was in the Navy for 24 years. Their daughter is married to a sailor.
Oleeta's father and her brother both served in the Navy.
Her grandfather was a Pearl Harbor survivor.
"He was an engineman chief aboard the USS Helena," she said. "He had just left the engine room when a Japanese torpedo slammed into the engine room. Just imagine if he had stayed down there. I wouldn't be here today. His service was definitely more important than mine."
Oleeta joined the Navy in 1984. She was working at a bank in California.
"I was bored, so I went on my lunch break and joined the service."
She went to the Air Force recruiting office, but she was told she'd never make it. So she went next door to the Navy, aced the test and joined.
At A-school in Meridian, Miss., she graduated first in her class to become a Personnelman, which is similar to an HR role.
The first base she was stationed at was in Guam, where she met her husband, who was also in the Navy. She then joined the Personnel Support Detachment in Bremerton, Wash.
Later, they were going to ship her husband to Tennessee and her to Hawaii, so she got out in December 1988 to be with her husband.
"I decided to pick marriage over my career," she said. "I loved the Navy. I hated that I had to choose."
So for the next 20 years, Loupe was a military wife, living in Maine and Puerto Rico.
Her husband served on a minesweeper, the USS Kitty Hawk, and the USS Carl Vinson, which was part of the battle group that launched the first missile attacks in Iraq.
"I believe that's the toughest job being a military spouse," she said. "You have to take care of the care packages, take care of bills, repairs on the house and raise the children."
He finished his tour at Saufley Field in Pensacola and they decided to stay here.
In Pensacola, Oleeta is planning on volunteering with the USO.
"We live near retired military folks, so it's a connection that's hard to explain," she said. "We talk in a lingo that only we can understand."
Her 20-year-old son is considering joining a military branch.
"I believe that being a part of any branch of the military is a wonderful experience for any young person," she said. "But my advice is to get a college education first and go in as an officer. I miss it, but now I have my Gulf Power family."