When you’re in the military, finding someone who understands the time commitment isn’t always easy, which is why many end up marrying fellow military members. Chris and Constance Werthe can attest to that.
“We met on my birthday, June of 2007,” Constance said, chuckling. “And we got married August 2007, so two months after.”
Though they had only known each other for a couple of months, both were sure they were making the right decision.
For some, getting married quickly doesn’t always work out, but that’s not the case for the Werthes, who will be celebrating their 12 year wedding anniversary in August.
“It worked out, and even though there’s a lot of naysayers, it’s always just been so easy with her,” Chris said.
Constance was born on in Detroit and raised by her grandparents in Grosse Pointe Park, a Motor City suburb, where she learned the importance of military service at a young age.
“My grandpa was a Marine,” she said. “He was also the mayor pro tem of the city I grew up in.”
In middle school, she joined the Sea Cadets, as she “had always been interested in the military.”
“We would always go to the (military-related) events, so I was familiar with it, and it was close to my heart,” she added.
Constance then attended Howe Military Academy in Indiana, one of the few coed military schools at the time, and continued on to Central Michigan University after graduation.
She had always known she wanted to join the military, but kept putting it off. So after she had finished school, she decided it was finally time to join the U.S. Air Force, which she did in January 1999.
She spent two years at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California as security forces personnel, where she had Alex, her first child. And after her enlistment was up, Constance decided not to re-enlist so she could raise Alex, and returned to Michigan in April 2001.
Soon after, she decided she wanted to go back into the military, but because the Air Force wasn’t taking any prior service members at the time, Constance instead joined the Army National Guard in 2003 as a military police officer, working at the National Guard Armory in Taylor, Michigan.
“We were combat (military police), so we did a lot of hands-on infantry,” she said.
During her time with the Guard, she was deployed to Iraq, serving there for eight months in 2004.
Constance moved to Golden, Colorado, and after finishing her four years with the Guard in 2007, she decided to transition into the Army Reserve so she could “try something different.”
When transitioning, she told the Reserve exactly that, and was able to begin training in a new field as a human resource specialist.
Though she had already been in the Guard, they wanted her to complete the Warrior Transition Course to transition prior Navy and Air Force enlisted personnel to the Army. It was during this training program that Constance met Chris.
Chris was born in Orange and moved around a lot as a child, first to Missouri, then back to California, before he finally settled down to finish his childhood with his grandparents in Florida.
“I would say I’ve always had the inclination to join the military service, but it was really my grandpa (who sparked it),” Chris said. “He was in the Army Air Corps, so he got put into the Air Force when they said, ‘Hey, we’re making the Air Force, want to join?’”
His aunt and uncle were also in the Navy, so right after high school, Chris wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, so he decided to join the Navy as a machinist mate in October 2000 and volunteered to be on a submarine.
He spent nearly two years training, first in South Carolina, then New York, to learn how to operate a nuclear reactor, before he was sent onto the USS Santa Fe, a nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine, in Hawaii.
“I was in the main engine room on the steam side of the nuclear reactor,” he said. “We did a Western Pacific cruise where we went to Japan, Thailand, Singapore … visited a bunch of countries.”
Chris described being on a submarine like being on an RV with blacked-out windows and “twice as many people as it’s supposed to have.”
The submarine carried anywhere from 120 to 150 men, including special intelligence “riders” who would visit the submarine to interpret data and listen to communication.
But the best part of being on a submarine was the food, Chris said, as it had to be made almost entirely from scratch.
“I’m still trying to figure out the dinner roll recipe,” Chris said. “It was this perfect, soft, pull-apart … I couldn’t talk them into giving me the recipe card.”
He spent the rest of his enlistment on and off the submarine, and in October 2006, he left the Navy.
“Six months later, I got bored and I missed the military,” Chris said, and he was tired of being on the “RV of all of my closest friends,” and instead wanted to go camping and hiking, so he then joined the U.S. Army as a fuel truck driver, where he too was sent to the Warrior Transition Course.
Chris and Constance
The transition training program took Chris and Constance first to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, then to New Mexico, where they quickly became best friends.
“We were inseparable,” Chris said. “Every time I sat down, she showed up behind me, and vice versa.”
During the program, they did a lot of weapons training, as well as a Combat Lifesaver Course, which became quite a significant experience for Chris and Constance after they were asked to partner up and give each other IVs.
“I blew his vein because I was so nervous,” Constance said, which left Chris with a huge bruise.
“The instructor was like, ‘Just do it,’ and took my hand,” Constance added. “I could feel it go through the vein, and I just about threw up and passed out — it was horrible.”
When training ended, Constance went back to Colorado and Chris was sent to Virginia for further training. By that time, she and Chris were dating and wanted to stay together, so they decided to get married.
“Sometimes, that’s just the hard truth of the military if you want to stay together,” Chris said.
“It was funny, He said, ‘Let’s get married,’ at the end of training, and I didn’t know whether to take him seriously or not … So I called him on it and said ‘OK,’” Constance said, and Chris laughed.
A few weeks later, Constance flew out to Virginia and they got married.
The newlyweds then moved to Chris’ new duty station at Fort Drum in New York, where Constance got an Active Guard Reserve job at the welcome center on base.
They liked moving closer to the East Coast because of where their families were — Chris’ family was in Virginia by then, and Constance’s family was still in Michigan.
In February 2009, Chris retired from the Army as a sergeant. The Werthes then moved back to Michigan, so they could take care of Constance’s grandmother.
During that time, Chris went back to school and went on to get a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering technology while Constance continued in the Reserve, back to doing military police work.
Over the next few years, the Werthes had two sons, David, who is now 7, and Kevin, who is 5, and Chris’ new job moved the family first to Wisconsin, then North Carolina.
At that time, Constance was still in the Reserve, but was a stay-at-home mom to her two toddlers and teenage son.
In 2014, Chris got a job with the city of Los Angeles in the Department of Water and Power, and the Werthes moved across the country to Tustin.
One of Chris’ coworkers suggested they check out Santa Clarita, and in 2015, they moved to Canyon Country.
“We lived there until January 2017, when we bought our first house,” Chris said.
“We’re making roots here,” Constance added.
In March 2015, Constance once again decided not to re-enlist, so she could raise David and Kevin, and retired from the Reserve as a sergeant.
“There was one time I brought out my uniform to hang up and David started crying — that right there was the moment I said, ‘OK, I’m done,’” she said.
Now, almost exactly 12 years after they met in the Reserve, both Chris and Constance said they’re actually thinking about re-enlisting, and Alex, who’s now 19, is following in their footsteps and joining the Navy in the fall.