In The Grey

A Midwest Deployment, and an Extreme Double Date

Three Greyshirt couples tear down walls in the Heartland

The second week of April, during Operation Heartlander in Bellevue, Nebraska, was unique for Team Rubicon: two married couples—the Ruestows and the Foxs—and one engaged couple were serving together, and all on the same strike team. 

Veteran couple in Team Rubicon shirts
Linda and Greg Ruestow

Linda Ruestow, of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, joined Team Rubicon because she was looking for purpose after retiring from the Air Force Reserves. Given her military background, love of travel, and desire to give back, Team Rubicon seemed like a good fit. After Linda began deploying in 2018, her husband, Greg became curious about what she was doing. 

“He wondered about all of these army guys I was hanging out with,” Linda joked. Soon, Greg, an Army veteran, had also joined Team Rubicon, becoming a sawyer and a heavy equipment operator. “He got hooked,” Linda said. “It’s a privilege to do this.”

The Ruestows have their individual interests—Linda is a runner who is involved with Team Red, White, and Blue, and has completed Run As One—and they’ve each deployed alone to various operations. Yet Team Rubicon has also become something they do together: in addition to their deployment on Heartlander, they also served together on the post-Hurricane Michael operation, Amberjack.  

Couple in construction garb
Alee and Bill Fox

Alee Fox joined Team Rubicon more than seven years ago but “wasn’t super active,” for the first few years as she was still in the Navy. Three years ago she thought her now-husband, William (Bill) Fox, would have fun going on TR ops, so she encouraged him to join, too.  

“I sent people in the Army to disasters but I didn’t get to go so much myself so Team Rubicon is my opportunity,” said Bill, a former Army medic. 

Alee is Team Rubicon’s Nevada membership coordinator and has completed Run as One for the past five years, but Operation Heartlander was the first deployment for her and for Bill. Turns out, it was a good fit. “Bill is good with people and I’m good at breaking stuff so we have different skill sets,” said Alee over breakfast the day after tearing apart a bathroom and kitchen for a homeowner. “We had so much fun,” she said. “I want to do this all of the time.” 

Steve Kokko and Bethany Bonner

Marine Steve Kokko joked that deploying with fiancée Bethany Bonner and the other couples was “extreme double-dating.” Steve, who joined Team Rubicon in 2015, has been on four ops; Bethany, who joined in ’17, has been on three. A case manager for people with opiate addictions, Bethany admits she loves TR ops for the people and “how close you get with someone after only three or four days.”

Heartlander would be Bethany’s last operation for a while: she was tapped out on vacation time. So, she focused instead on TR trainings to hold her over until she could accrue enough leave to deploy again—perhaps after the couple’s November wedding.


 

Editor’s note: When Kikko and Bonner tied the knot this November, the groom wore grey. 

Man in uniform wearing grey shirt
Steve Kokko before his wedding.
Couple at wedding
Kokko and Bonner

 

 

Jill L. Ferguson is an artist, consultant, entrepreneur and author of eight books, most recently of the book Creating a Freelance Career (Routledge, August 2018).