JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO – LACKLAND, Texas --
When Lance Willoughby’s daughter asked him to help with a school assignment, he was more than willing to provide the information she needed through text messages. Little did he know, she would post his comments on Twitter for the world to see. And see, they did.
Her post has 19,452 likes and 9,879 retweets, and national media outlets have contacted the family to request information and interviews.
Even though having his feelings posted for the world to see was not what he had in mind, Willoughby is glad he let his daughter know how he feels about her mom.
“I am so thankful for the positive feedback,” Willoughby said. “To be honest, I probably teared up writing it. I know how special our story is to us. I wanted her to know how much I truly love her mom and that my daughter's birth was the last piece to our puzzle of a perfect life/family, in my eyes.”
On Dec. 4, overwhelmed by her dad’s responses to her request, Sydney, the youngest of the Willoughby children, posted to Twitter, “I’m writing an essay about my parents and hearing this from my dad about my mom made me cry.” She included pictures of his texts in the post.
Willoughby seems reluctant to believe his story is out of the ordinary.
“Mine is just one of millions,” the father of three Tweeted after seeing the many responses to his daughter’s post. “If you’ve felt it, u know. If u haven’t. u will. My advice, don’t be afraid to luv. I hope everyone understands how hard you’ve got to fight for long lasting luv & when to walk away.”
Having a long-term relationship means more than just feeling in love, Willoughby said.
“She doesn’t just ‘complete me,’ she came into my life when I was young and immature, completed me, and then made me so much better of a person. I dated and married an angel,” he said.
The couple met in Germany, where Willoughby was stationed for his first Air Force assignment.
“We were both military brats. The Air Force has been a part of my entire life, as well as hers,” he said. “My dad is a retired chief, hers a master sergeant. The military was and still is a big part of our family. It is what made us whole as a family. Although it took me away from them at times, it just made my return that much more special. The Air Force, from a kid going to squadron picnics to my career from Airman basic to major, the Air Force took care of us.”
Willoughby said the story of how he met his wife seems funny now.
“I had an on- and off-again girlfriend, and my wife was her friend visiting from college. They came to my dorm and asked me to come to the club that night. I met them there, and my girlfriend had already been dancing for a while.” When Willoughby asked her to dance, she was tired and told him to dance with her friend, Kimberly.
Willoughby said he and Kimberly went to the dance floor and didn't leave it until the club closed. Needless to say, his girlfriend was no longer speaking to him. He felt a little guilty about it, but he was 19 and immature, he said. A few days later he asked his wife out, and a few weeks later they were engaged.
They initially thought it would be funny just to tell people we were engaged, he said.
“But... two weeks later I was madly in love. Still am,” Willoughby said. “We married one year to the day after we met.”
Willoughby spent 22 years in the Air Force, 11 years enlisted and 11 years as an officer. Currently, he is assigned as a civilian to Air Combat Command in operating location Joint Base San Antonio.
Being in the military can be difficult for families, but it is all about how you handle things, Willoughby said.
“When I was going to school so that I could become an officer, she was working full time like me. We never saw each other. I just felt like we were drifting apart, and said so,” Willoughby said. “What held us together was love and openness about feelings.”
Willoughby offers advice to new couples, beginning their journey together.
“Falling in love is easy,” he said. “Getting past infatuation, and it turning to love is very easy to do. Sustaining that love over years requires constant communication, time with just the two of you, and hard work at making each other happy. You have to find a way to meet the needs of that person while meeting enough of your own needs.”
While Willoughby said his wife loved the post by their daughter, and the attention it has brought about, in the beginning he was not thrilled with the idea of his private messages being made public, he said. But then, when he looked at the responses people wrote, he was happy that the story put smiles on people's faces.