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Ep. 73 - Time To Come Alive: Doing What It Takes With Major Ricardo Hope, USMC Ret.

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Time To Come Alive: Doing What It Takes With Major Ricardo Hope, USMC Ret.

Consider the last time you had a right of passage. And what I mean by rite of passage, think about whether it was a celebration of some sort. It could have been a birthday. Perhaps a graduation. Maybe with some rite of passage signifying that you were moving into a new stage of life, the Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah. All rights of Passage have some interesting qualities. What were some of the interesting qualities of your rite of passage? What was that transition signifying to yourself or to others? We're going to talk to a special guest today about his own transition, his own right of passage. 


Before that, let me tell you first of all, welcome to Time To Come Alive. My name is Valerie Hope and I am your host and I am so excited to bring to you conversations that create our consciousness or we get to be more connected and even more creative as a result. Each week, I bring to you a guest that I think will produce just that and have a really interesting and captivating conversation, at least for me. I hope you enjoy it as well. Today's special guest is none other than my little brother, Ricardo. 


Actually, I don't call him little brother Ricardo, I call him Retired Major Ricardo Hope. I call him Ricky, whatever you call him. First of all, I am so grateful that you said yes. Because those of you who do not know, my family, they become the test subjects for a lot of my material and my content. I ask a lot of questions and they're not always a yes for public stuff. I don't take for granted when they do say yes that I am like, “I got a shot. I got an opportunity.” I appreciate that Ricky and then the other piece is that you and I have known each other for 44 years. 


How old are you, 43? 42? Oh my goodness, almost 43. Yes? I've known you for 42 years of your life. I am older by four years and you come in a package. You are twofer, you have a twin brother Rolando who at some point we hope to have here, but who I know you to be is you were the more disciplined of all four of us. You are certainly the tallest now and also you probably have the most, I want to say traditional, I would say traditional in your life path. From your studies through your career and through your marriage, your family life. I feel like we've all been dabbling and vamping. You can look at Ricky, “There's our North Star right there.” Hashtag, life goals. You're it. Welcome To Time To Come Alive. I am so glad that you're here. You said yes to me this morning. 


Thank you for allowing me to come on your show. 


You are allowed. Remember I used to not let you all do anything? You cannot come into my room. You can't touch my stuff. I have evolved. Ricky, what else should we know about who you are at this point in time in your life? 


At this point in time in my life, as you mentioned before. I have retired from the Marine Corps after 20 years of service. I am currently in a Teacher Preparation Program called Urban Teachers. I am a resident teacher at an Uplift School here in Dallas, Texas. Moved here with my family last June, 2019, we are settling into the area and excited to be here. 


Yay, huge, huge transition. I think back to when you , me, Rolly, Dito and the Boy Scouts. That's one of the first times that I remember you all being in uniform for long periods of time. Let's talk a little bit about your career in the Marine Corps. You just retired a year ago but what was it in the first place that drew you to being in the service?


A long, long time ago. 


In a galaxy far, far away. 


Something like that. I guess I've always been interested in the military. The earliest memory I have so to speak of was what I wanted to become as I looked at the encyclopedia and saw different uniforms of the military. I remember liking the Marine Corps uniforms and just blues. That's just how it is. That's in the 80s and when we lived in Hawaii, I remember we still had a Marine sticker on a dresser, didn't think anything of it. It was just there. 


Really? I don't remember. On your dresser? Really? From where?  


I don't know. Rick did a really good job on getting those.  


It was subliminal, Semper Fi. Why does semper fi always touch the heartstrings?


It wasn't semper fi, it was a Marine sticker. Remember I wanted to be an MP because I got to drive cars. As a kid, that's just what you think about but. I still like the uniform. The military was something that was always there. It really started in high school. “Hey, what are you going to do next?” “I want to be an engineer.” At least that's what I thought. Then a friend of mine was, “Hey, have you heard of the Naval Academy?” I said, “Naval Academy? What?” He gave me this, at the time it was called a Pre-Candidate Questionnaire. Submitted it. I started doing my own research. I got the little book combed through it, looking over and over that book. The pictures, I was like, “This is pretty cool. I am interested in this.” 


I really like the uniforms now.  


It wasn't so much the Marine Corps then I was just more. Oh you want to go to the Naval Academy. I guess in the way I fell in love with that idea. Something I wanted to do then I just started going forward with that idea. 


Wait time out. I am sorry to interrupt, but you make it sound like going to the Naval Academy is, “I just had the questionnaire, filled it out and went to them. There's a process to get into the Naval Academy.  Not just anybody gets in. Let's talk about that. Shall we? I know, let me just put this out. Two things about you. You are one of the most humble people I know, it's your thing. I would just invite you today To put that to the side because we're just sharing facts. There might be someone out here listening who needs to understand and know what it does take or at least that might just open up their eyes to something they didn't experience. Just invite you to look at it from that perspective. Tell us, what did it take to get into the Naval Academy? 


All right. Like I said, there is a pre-candidate questionnaire, you send that. At the time everything's hard copy. There was no online admissions process. I am sure it's a little different now than it was then but either way though, you have to submit the application process. I am sure they send you the requirements, do you meet the criteria to continue with your admissions process? The major muscle movements are recommendations from high school teachers. There was the physical exam just to ensure that you were medically qualified for military service. 


I remember that I had to get the physical fitness test like throwing a basketball and a shuttle run and all sorts of things and it gets time and submitted. Remember doing that at the Fort Rucker Gym but Coach Whitehurst? Mr. Whitehurst. Anyway, he's the one that did it for me. That's a pretty big deal. The biggest piece was getting the nomination. Since our dad was in the military, I qualified for the Presidential nomination. And so I received the Presidential nomination to attend the Military Academy. If your parents are not in the military, you can get a Congressional nomination but since I did not have to worry about that. I did the Presidential route and everything worked out.


I love it. I just did the presidential route. Who was the President at the time? 




Was it Clinton? Okay, got it. It's funny you say all this because I was in college at that point and I don't remember any of this. I just remember being, “Ricky's going to the Naval Academy? What?” I think Mama told us or I don't know maybe there's a phone call or something about it that you got in. I can't remember exactly what it was but it was really shocking. I didn't even know that the military held that kind of appeal to you and you mentioned that our father is a retired Army Officer as well. I am curious. If any, what was that like? What influence did the daddy being in the Army have? 


I was okay with a military lifestyle. Wearing uniforms that kind of stuff was like.”I don't want anyone telling me what to do.” As you know, I live a little bit more disciplined than others in our family, I guess. I was comfortable with that.




I was comfortable with that and that was it. 


That was it. Interesting and I think all of us. Probably I should not say all of us. I did consider the military for like this long because you're right. When you grew up in that, we immigrated from Panama when I was nine. You and Rolly were four, Dito was 10. That's what we knew up through at least high school for me and in college really for you and beyond now. 


You had to go through all the hoops that you needed to go through. You went the presidential route and you got your Presidential Nomination to go into the Naval Academy. Talk to us about what was it that you were expecting or what were you hoping to achieve by going to the Naval Academy? I know you wanted to study Engineering but what was it about going to the Naval Academy and you doing university studies? What were you hoping for after that? 


I think the biggest thing was, it was just different. A lot of folks are, they're an Ozark we're going to , Auburn Alabama. I was for the most part relatively local within the state and I was doing something different. No one else is going to one of the academies. In a way I celebrated internally that it was different from a lot of choices the other people made. 


Yes, at the time, our father was stationed in Fort Rucker, Alabama. We have been there for four years, I guess because I graduated from high school there and then went off to University of Alabama. Dito and then you obviously were home longer. You want it to be something different. What was it about being different that was important at the time? 


That's what attracted me to the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps is all about being different, standing out in different ways and  just being the best of the best of the best. That's not necessarily my style, but  Just standing out in a way that was getting that soft and aggrandising but still recognized as, “Oh, wow, that's different.” I approach a lot of things that way. 


Not Quite Strangers | Doing What It Takes
Doing What It Takes: What attracted me to the Marine Corps is all about being different, standing out in different ways.

Being different. We will come back to that. I want to talk about what it was like to be at the Naval Academy. Just for the people to have a flavor of what life there was like and going there as a University student first and foremost, but also knowing that this would lead to a career in the military. Talk us through some of the highlights for you in being there. 


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was tough. I remember the first night I was like, “Oh my goodness what I gave myself into?” Because you feel like they are going to eat you.


First night?


Yes, the first night. I think it's probably a very similar experience that most people have when they go to the initial onboarding for a military career. There's no air conditioning in the Bancroft Hall. That's the main door dormitory where all Midshipmen are housed. There's no air conditioning, it's just hot. It's hot. You're sweaty, you are exercising and doing stuff and it's just like a whirlwind. You're just constantly doing stuff,  training, learning. 


It's all navel training, completely outside of my comfort zone in terms of growing up as a child of an army officer versus doing all this Navy stuff. That was different and kind of cool and “Oh, this is neat.” I knew I can swim so that was not a concern but now we're going to be out in the Seven Rivers sailing boats. Learning how to sail and learning the different flags, again very very different than anything I've really ever done. 


That was fleet summer. It was tough and difficult. I Learned a lot, and got into the Academic Year. That is what school really starts in terms of working on your education, but the military stuff still continues. You're balancing both your military stuff with your Academic Program. That was really tough as well. In high school I don't really have to study. I could study very little so I have really good habits in terms of how to study and when I got there I thought, “Big fish in a small pond in Alabama.” I got there. I am just another fish with a bunch of other Sharks and Groupers and in a much bigger pond. 


Yelling at you. 


All these different layers.I struggled academically. I also struggled physically because I didn't know how to exercise or workout. I was always healthy and in shape but the expectation isn't just being in shape but to be better, be faster, to be stronger. How do you get there? That wasn't something that was in my wheelhouse at that time. Both academically and physically I struggled initially, but then I overcame that and got better at it. 

In the Naval Academy, the expectation isn't just being in shape, but to be better, faster, and stronger.

Hey, we have a visitor. There's five of them that could potentially make an appearance. That's really interesting. First of all, I wanted to note that you mentioned in school, you had good study habits. I think you and Rolly were in the top ten, Fifteen in your class or something. 


I think I was sixteen and Rolly was ten, something like that, nine. 


You guys are at the top of your class. Highly accomplished in school. You did have great habits, as far as I could tell because I remember whenever we were hanging out at home and talking and everyone was just hanging out, “Where's Ricky?” “He's asleep. He's already in bed.” Look at the clock. 


Those are good personal habits. The best study habits. I like studying new and learning difficult material. So yes. 


All I am pointing out is that you have the potential in you already knew that there's something different about this guy. So, all right. First of all, how did you notice that you were struggling physically in your physical fitness as well as in your studies? What was happening or what conversations that you have that showed that, “Oh, I am struggling here.” 


Fleet summer. That summer, everyone was running, taking off and running like jackrabbits and I was struggling and I did not have the lungs capacity like everyone else did. Part of it is just comparison, “He or she's running much faster than I am. Wait a second. I thought I was fast.” Now you're not as fast as you thought you were. This physically balanced was one piece of it. Then academically, it was when you started getting your grades. I think everyone goes to the same thing in college. More material, more pressure all those things are combining to make it. That first semester was difficult and I remember I got a C and they're like, “You got a C, we need to start talking about this.” “Hey how are you going to get your C up?” It was like, I guess shot across the bus so to speak to get my attention. 


What did you do? How did you go about addressing your physical fitness and your grades? 


I will say I try to exercise more but that wasn't necessarily the case. That's a really good question. What did I do? At least physically over time, people are, “Hey, let's go workout.” “Let's go exercise.” I just got stronger and more efficient in my exercising that way. Academically, It was just buckling down and studying. Some subjects I was fine with, like history. I like history, I was pretty good with that. Math, I like math. I just couldn't take things for granted. I couldn't, “I will study that later.” I couldn't prioritize my military stuff over my academic stuff. It is just, “Oh, I will get to that.” Now It's like military stuff. I need to reprioritize my efforts in a different way. 


What do you mean by military stuff? 


One of the things is a plebe, you have to. I do not want to give away all the little secrets. 


You are underoath or something when you join the military. What can you share?


A couple things you have to do as a freshman as a plebe. You have to read three articles in the newspaper and then be conversant enough to talk about them at your meal. We have meals together. For breakfast, the Upper class was like, “Hey, what did you read this morning?” “Oh, okay.” There's no taking things out. “I read about this article.” You got to talk about it and be able to answer questions about it. 


Not Quite Strangers | Doing What It Takes
Doing What It Takes: As a freshman, you got to read three articles in the newspaper and then be converted enough to talk about them at your meal.

Guess what, everyone else probably read the same newspapers. They probably read the same article or something similar or they have specific knowledge about those things. You couldn't be, “I am going to throw something out there.” It's like, “Oh, well, I am majoring in Economics. That's not exactly.” That's just one piece of it. You have to memorize what the news was for that day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Here's what they're serving. 


Over time you're getting knowledge on different ships capabilities and weapons characteristics. You're trying to learn all that stuff again. This is all new stuff to us or to me. You're trying to learn all that stuff, be conversant about it plus any of the professional qualification standard materials that we're supposed to study and master. You're learning all that stuff but then you also have your, “Hey you're going to school you got to get a degree.” Those two things. 


That's interesting. I didn't realize that was part of the preparation and just being conversant on what was happening in the world. I can imagine being a freshman in college. We're so self-absorbed at that point thinking about not only our own experience, being away from home, but also trying to find the groove and studying and socializing all that sort of thing. 


One thing I've been really curious about. Because I think out of all the four of us, if I had to rank us in terms of temperament. Just in terms of temperament. I would say Rolly is probably one of the most expressive and I think I come second. I would say your third and Dito is Chill. When I think of you in the military environment where people are yelling, there seems to be this heightened sense of urgency for everything, at least in my imagination, the glimpses that I saw while I was there. 


Although I know you all put on a really good front. Everybody was dressed nice for those family weekends. No one was yelling and spitting or whatever, everyones on their best behavior. What was it like emotionally being in that environment? And how did you adapt in your temperament to what was happening or what you needed to do? 


That was fine. Really, it's because it is typically military, especially as an officer. You do not want to be too hot. You do not want to be too cold. You want to be calm, cool, collected.  Smack dab in the middle and that was fine. If anything, I think, my experience in the band growing up in high school. The drumline and just being really stoic and focused. That made that part of the military stuff easy. I could sit down on a parade deck, on a parade field in drill formation and just stand there. It didn't bother me. 


You're in the Drum and Bugle Corps, too. That was all four years? 


All four years. The last year, I was the Drum and Bugle Corps Commander. 


Yey. Right on. Let's switch gears a little bit. We know a little bit about the discipline, what it took for you to not only physically but also academically shore up everything you needed to. Let us talk about socially. What was life like? What kind of friendship did you develop? What was that part of your life? How did that part of your life develop while you are in the academy?


Well the cool thing about the academy, you start from scratch. I am sure some people knew each other from their home States, but you everyone gets thrown into the mix there into your different companies and whatnot. You're all wearing uniforms. Everyone looks alike, everyone's hair is cut,a lot of those differences are ironed out, which is the military way. You get really close to the people who are closest to you. My company mates, really close with them and since I spend a lot of time with the Drum and Bugle Corps. That's probably the preponderance my friends were in the Drum and Bugle because I spent so much time with them. 

The cool thing about the academy is that everyone starts from scratch.

I know there's more. Shall I ask the question? Let's talk about your love life Ricky. What was love like in the Naval Academy? 


I know what you're alluding to, so yes. I met my wife there in the Naval Academy. She was awesome at the drumline at the time. 


I didn't know she was in the Drumline. 


Yes, she played in the pit and cymbals. 


Okay. Okay, Sarah, good. Do share, what was the moment? 


I don't know if there's a moment. It's just we were friends and we decided to take it beyond just being friends and we started dating and then that's just kind of how it went. 


You know if she was listening to this conversation. She'd probably, “Really that's it. That's all you got.” 


I am a Man of Simple taste. 


No, no, don't say that. That didn't help. That didn't help. I am curious because I imagine you guys are under a lot of pressure. There's a lot of expectation. There are a lot of things happening. There's a lot of regimented activity. When you and Sarah met and decided that beyond the friendship you wanted to build a romantic relationship. What was that like? What did it take? How much space was there and opportunity was there for that relationship to blossom? 


There's a lot of space. There are regiments but it is not like you're in some kind of hamster wheel the whole time. At the time, AOL instant messenger was out. We communicated that way. There's no need for cell phones because we are in the same building. 


There was no problem with midshipmen dating one another? 


Upper class can not date freshmen. That's the only restriction. 


What year were you and what year was Sarah? 


I was 99 and she was 2001. We didn't start dating until she was a Sophomore. 


But you were still technically an upperclassmen. 


Upperclassmen can not date freshmen. 


Just freshman. Okay. Once they're sophomores. 


They are not in the same company or chain of command. Yes. 


Got it. Let's hop over then. Both you and Sarah finish your education. I believe you had a choice between going to the Navy or the Marine. Did you already decide that Marines were the way to go? Did Sarah already decide that? What led to that?


Obviously we're two different timelines in terms of when she made her decision or service assignment. For me I had me all mature and go on as a senior. First, I go through the service assignment process. You rack and stack what you would like to do, Navy Air, Marine Air, Marine Ground, Surface Warfare Officer. All those things you rack and stack them. You interview for your top position, “What do you want to do?” “I want to be.” For me, I want to be at Marine Ground. They have Marine ground and Marine Naval Flight Officer because I had glasses at the time. To have those two first and then I think I had no slow Surface Warfare Officer third. You will be interviewed for your top slot and they look at your record. They look at any training you've done, all those kinds of things and then one day I think it's in January you get your service assignment and you get a little with your, “Congratulations. You've been selected for Marine Ground.” That's how that happened. 


When you left the academy what happens after one graduates? I don't remember going to your graduation. Did I go to your graduation? Don't remember but I know I went to the academy several times. I saw you in action and there's always so much Pomp and Circumstance whenever we seem to go. There's always an Army Navy game. I think I may have gone to an Army Navy game at one point or I don't know. I am not sure exactly all the things I attended but I am curious about what happens when you literally finish and what's that first assignment that you had just leaving the academy? 


Commissioned in May, 99. The first assignment is to go to the Basic School in Quantico, Virginia. Went down to Quantico Virginia and then spent six months at a school called TBS. There at TBS is where you get your MOS, your Military Occupational Specialty. For me, I wanted to become a Communications Officer, I Major in Computer Science. I like Communications and that's what I did. 


Ricky, when you think about it and it's funny we talk often but I don't know if I really peeled back this much about what it took for you to get into the Naval Academy, to stay in and then also to go through that piece and beginning of your career. I think the thing that stands out to me the most is your commitment and dedication. You got locked in and then you were like, “a yes” and went for it 100%. Talk to us a little bit about what were some of the highlights when you go back and you think about your 20 year career in the military, in the Marines, What were some of the highlights, things that stood out for you on either end of the spectrum? 


Technically correct 20 plus. To be considered. Even though it doesn't go towards retirement or anything like that, It's still considered being part of the military. I had a lot of cool experiences at the Naval Academy. Awesome experiences as a Marine. Just going to my first Platoon,  the first check in into the Marine, to be in the Marine unit was an adventure itself. That was fun. 


Why was it an adventure? 


Of course, it's all looking back now, right but it was a check then and once again. 


Daddy Duty. We'll definitely have to address the fact that Ricky and Sarah have five children all ranging between three years old and thirteen years old and I think we have here the three-year-old. I know we have a three year old here. He's now busy. Ricky. I know that you can hear me. I am curious about, first of all, I want you to talk to us about this adventure that you had at that moment. Then I also want you to tell us a little bit about what point did you and Sarah decide how you were going to go about building a family? I think that's the other piece. Military life can be very Time consuming.  Your heart and soul is in it completely/. I want to hear about that too but finish telling us about this adventure that you experience. 


I think it was in September, 2000. I finished Communication School in Quantico and became a Communications Officer, and I was checking into my first unit. It started raining. It was raining really hard in Jacksonville, North Carolina.  I got out of my car, I ran into the building. I am in my outfit, which is the green uniform. I finally got in and I  reported to the Commanding Officer. It was the wrong Commanding Officer. I was checking into that too much information I guess. It was all part of the same Battalion but the wrong Company. The guy looks at my record. He's like, “We're glad to have you but you're actually supposed to go into this other Company.” 


I was so soaked I had to go back to my car. Still raining, go to the company I was supposed to be checking into. I get there, I check in, they're, “Thank you for checking in. Looks like you are soaked.” I got changed and that was like my day one checking in.


By this point you're used to being soaking in the water anyway. You knew when you were going to the Naval Academy that that was going to be your life, water. 


I guess that is the true amphibious check-in process. 


Amphibious experience. Let's talk about family life then. What did that look like when Sarah graduated from the Naval Academy and you guys married, I believe right after she graduated. 




2001. Wow. Fantastic. It's been 20 years, almost 19 years. I didn't go to the Naval Academy, I didn't get a Presidential Nomination so my math is not as sharp as yours. I am not as technically oriented. I love to hear more when you and Sarah talk about family. What did you guys have in mind? 


We knew we wanted to have kids. That was given and we were comfortable with four. She had four brothers and sisters in her family. I have four in mine. It's four. That doesn't seem Beyond The Pale so to speak, and then because of our faith, God put into our hearts. To have another child and then we did. Then our indicator was like, “Were we missing somebody?” That would be as we understand it, God's pumping on our heart to have another child.  


Not Quite Strangers | Doing What It Takes
Doing What It Takes: God's pumping on our hearts to have another child.

Because you have five, I am like, you probably could be missing somebody.  


Once you respond. We no longer had that prompting. 


Good. I remember and I don't know exactly at what point this happened, but you and Sarah were both active duty in the Marines. How many times were you deployed? 


I deployed three times and Sarah once. 


I remember you and I having a conversation about deployment because the chances that you and Sarah would be deployed at the same time were actually pretty high. Talk to me a little bit about what was happening during that time and what made that such a high likelihood? 


That was 2009 we had two kids at the time and I knew I was going to be going to training for about a month, come back and then deploy again afterwards. Then Sarah went to deploy as well because as Marines, being stuck at home was not an option and we always wanted to deploy. That was one of those things that we wanted to do. We started, “Okay, how do we make this thing work?” It's going to be, her mom would come in for a little bit, then I would go to my training. Then come back and then my mom will come in. I am not going to stay there the whole time. Then her mom would have to come in. 


While I was employed, she was potentially deployed. Like it was trying to multi-layered, taking the time to make this all work, cross country. It was not going to happen at the time. God was trying to tell us something's got to give, both can not be in at the same time and take care of your family. That's up to that point. It was in a way difficult. We had two kids and two different daycare centers. It's, “Hey, I am leaving to go home now.” “Okay, you go pick up the ones farthest.” We're always trying to scramble around to try to make that work. It was this apparently clear deployment question that we probably needed in a way that put ourselves in a position where that wasn't necessarily the case anymore. 


I remember pretty real one time you called me and asked if you could put my name down. I think it was for a Power of Attorney or something, that in the event that anything happened to you or Sarah, that I would have the kids and I was like, “Whoa, oh my goodness.” Which first I was honored because out of the four of us I really should. No shade to Ricky and Dito and Rolly but I am like, “That makes sense.” I think Sarah's siblings are much younger too and I think where I was in my life probably made more sense for me. I do recall feeling the weight of a decision like that. I am curious because both of you were deployed and deployed to places that were War zones. You were in what? You were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan? 


In Iraq and Afghanistan, Sarah went to Iraq. 


When you were there, some experiences that you had there and I know that you can't share tons of things but what can you share about that experience and what impact that it has on you? 


I guess no way you value the things you have in life a little more than you would otherwise one second. 

Value the things you have in life a little more than you would otherwise.

This is a moment to cherish for sure. It's been interesting that we grew up with a military family. Clearly, our father was in the Army for 26, 27 years I believe. Growing up as a military brat if you will, it's not unusual, you hear your parents always being sent off. Our father was not deployed but he did go to school quite often and for long periods of time. At times he was stationed in other countries and we didn't see him. I think that's that part in and of itself just being away from family. I am sure it had to have its weight and challenge. I am curious about what deployments mean to you and what impact that they have on you? 


In a way when you deploy you don't want to necessarily think about your family because it's just going to, “I miss my family.” Then you lose sight of the mission that you're on. You care about your family, you love your family, wrote letters and we had email you later on different deployments. We're able to stay in contact that way or via phone call. 


I've got a personal theory on relationships and marriages through deployment. It basically goes a long line of there's two people you are cogs in the wheel or cogs in the machine. When you're married and together, you roll together and all your edges smooth out everything works well. You communicate easily, when you deploy, you get pulled apart. However, you're still turning and you have other gears, making edges and things on you and so when you come back. 


I still remember my first deployment. The biggest learning point for me was this thing called Return to Union. All the old Marines, I am assuming all services, but at least in my case, in my experience all Marines had to go through this training or we get to learn how to be together again with your spouse. What I've learned is this does not just come together automatically. There's a very deliberate communication that needs to happen.


This has been happening to me for over six months. This is happening to you. How do we figure things out? I paid the bills while you were gone, but I can't just come back in to start paying those bills. You got to like okay well and maybe you pay the bills or I pay the bills or whatever kind of agreement is going to come to you but still either way it's all about communication and understanding. Where you're coming from and trying to put your lives back together again. 


Not Quite Strangers | Doing What It Takes
Doing What It Takes: It's all about communication, understanding where you're coming from, and trying to put your lives back together again.

Bill paying aside because we know who pays the bills but that's that's nice. I have to say, first of all, one of the things that I so appreciate about you and Sarah. Sarah has a binder, she has a checklist, color codes, everything. The two of you financially anyway, really helped me a lot get myself organized. Went through the whole Dave Ramsey Financial Peace program and getting that free. The two of you might have such great discipline and intentionality already built into your lives and then how you guys put those together to work so that each of your working and your strengths. I think it's phenomenal. Talk to us a little bit about what it was like coming back in and interacting with your kids if there was anything there especially after you've had what, three at this point? I think when you deployed the third or fourth time. 


The third time we had two and then Oscar was born a month later after I got back. I don't think it impacted them as much. As if they were older, which I would make sense younger kids have a very short memory of those kinds of things. “Something happened yesterday.” but that was three years ago or two years ago. Their time Horizons are a little different. 


Got it. Ricky when you think about what led to you once you've ended your career in the military. Talk to us about what was transitioning out of the military like? When did it start for you? What was the experience like? 


Just like anything the military. They bring you in and they also prepare you to leave them out of the service. There's this thing called a Transition Assistance Program. That all service members need to go through and it goes through building a resume, how to dress for success, the different programs and things you're eligible for as a veteran or as a retiree. That's a pretty deliberate process and that started. Well, I guess the first I was able to take the class twice. I took it in Okinawa in 2017 and I took it again in 2018. 


Position out. What was your proudest moment when you think back to your military career? Or what were you most proud about? 


I don't know if I just had a moment, “Oh, this is the proudest moment.” I do remember my after my first deployment. Because I was OF-1 there's no infrastructure. The people, your platoon and your Battalion. This is all you have around you that is really cool. When we came back we were a really tight-knit group. That was a really cool kind of experience. You hear about it in movies or reading books, but actually experiencing them in person was pretty neat. 


Like the fraternity with the group, your platoon? 


That kind of stuff.

Wow, Describe for us. What was that fraternity like? What was that relationship? What was it that made it so special and memorable to you? 


We had no other distractions. You folks could write letters home, but that was it.  Write a letter you send it away, hopefully you get a response in a week, two weeks, a month. something like that. Nothing turned around that quickly anyways. The people around you were the only people you could depend on. Either going through a sandstorm or just just the execution of combat operations and just living through that and hearing it and seeing. 


What was your longest deployment? How long? 


The last one was the longest one, that was six months in Afghanistan. 


Got it. I remember I think you and I wrote letters too. I still have those letters. 


Probably more so that’s at my first deployment that’s because we had email stuff from my second and third deployment. 


I'd have to go back and look.  I am really curious. I think one of the things you and I share is that we talk often and I just remember probably more. Dito and I were in the same University. Dito and I shared that particular piece of life. Rolly has always been a little bit different. He's going to be an anomaly sometimes and we didn't always connect until probably more so in the last five, ten years or so now than we had before, but I feel like you and I have always had some sort of regular communication. What do you attribute that to? 


I don't know. 


This is when you say, “Oh because you're like my only sister.” 


Oh, because you're my only sister. I am not saying this under duress. 


Paragraph three, the highlight. 


She is the most, bestest sister. 


Silly. I do appreciate you and I over time even with the distance. I've pretty much visited you and the family. I think in every Duty station you've had. South Carolina, San Diego, Hawaii, Okinawa. I feel like I've been one of those gears in the Cog, in the machine that I just come and go, come in. I appreciate that, but the biggest opportunity that we've had has been most recent. Over the last year and change or actually a little over a year imagine because you were preparing for this transition. You have now moved to my backyard and Dito’s backyard here in the Dallas area. Talk to us a bit about what once you left the military, what had you focused on this teacher program that you're now in. 


If I could take a little running start. In Okinawa Lucy, my daughter asked me to come to a career day. Your parents get an opportunity to share what they do at work. I shared some stuff. I did a little activity, kids like that. I was like, “Huh, I think like this.” Lucy's like, “You should be a teacher.” “Okay.” Then Sarah was like, “You should be a teacher.” I started thinking about it seriously. It's like, “I think that's something I'd like to do.” Sarah exposed me to the Urban Teacher Program. Here's a teacher program and I looked at it. It sounds interesting. I like it. Just like going to the Naval Academy, somebody exposed me to this opportunity. I was like, ”I like that.” I just went through the process and got selected for it. And that's that. 


What exactly is a program? What is it teaching you and for how long are you in it? 


It's called Urban Teachers. It's a program with the intent to provide we'll qualify teachers to underserved communities and right now is only in three locations DC, Baltimore and Dallas. It's a four year program the first two years you you're working on your Master's Degree from Johns Hopkins University in whatever your program of study, Secondary Math or Secondary English language, Arts and in my case in Elementary Education, You get your Master's Degree for those those two years and throughout the entire time those four years. You're getting coached and mentored by veteran teachers and coaches to become a better and more effective teacher. 


Studies have shown that effective teachers throughout the life of a child have a multiplicative effect to decrease that education gap between students.  That's kind of one of the things that Urban Teachers really focus on. For me, because I am sure the next question you're going to ask is, “Well, why are we teachers?” I like that this is a programmatic approach, discipline, structured approach of again something I am used to. I like and also like that  It's an opportunity to make an impact on some Black and Brown children that need effective teachers and hopefully I can be part of that process. 

Effective teachers throughout the life of a child have a multiplicative effect to decrease that education gap between students.

Especially as a male you but you already had a master's degree going into this, correct? 


I got a master's degree from Kansas State University in Adult and Continuing Education. 


At that point you thought that working with adults would be an option after your military career. What was it that made you decide Adult Learning Education? 


I think the thing that attracted me to that degree was, one I could get it done within a year while I was there in Kansas for school. Secondly, There's a lot of time back into the military because you're dealing with adults. A lot of things we did were training in the education base. I was able to use some of those things in my career as a Marine Officer, which made it very nice. Then you took a left turn and decided, third grade. What was it about the shift to work with kids? You mentioned the program obviously will connect you to these opportunities to develop this but what's been the biggest shift that you've had to make working with adults as a leader and now working with kids?


I don't know if I had to make a shift, necessarily. 


I mean you're still yelling at kids and swearing at them. 


No. I think one, kids don't necessarily talk back as much but they do question more. I guess they want to know why. You got to explain something in a way that they would understand. With Marines you can just say, “No I said so. We're going to do it that way and we're moving.” There's a bit of inherent trust in the system and how things are set up that, “Okay, you're the you're the the CEO, you're the Officer in Charge so okay.”  You trust, faith and confidence to go and do that. The kids are not built-in. You're in a different position. 


I like kids, I like the energy, just I like seeing the growth of one of the things you asked early about proud moments. Probably the proudest duty station I've been to is Parris Island as a Series Commander at combi Commander and just seeing that three months, taking a civilian with long hair, bushy hair whatever and then at the end of that three month process. Seeing the United States Marine was awesome. 


The drill instructors did that and  I was proud and blessed to be part of that process. In a similar fashion, it's to be on the ground floor so to speak of somebody's educational career. That's awesome. People would ask, “Why do you want to be an elementary school teacher?Why not college or at least High School?” I think at least in my mind, middle schoolers and high schoolers are probably a little too set in their ways, but you really see a lot of growth in elementary school. The child who can't read but because of your effort now they can read that's huge. Right so 


Not Quite Strangers | Doing What It Takes
Doing What It Takes: You really see a lot of growth in elementary school.

You like the idea of being able to directly impact and transform lives and see and be able to be present for that transformation. Got it. Wow. As we wrap up here Ricky, one of the things that I just want to acknowledge you because you've been completely committed to living life on your terms. I think you've found your neck of the woods that fits the best. 


You found a way to use your talent and your gift for not only engaging people in things that are interesting to them. I think you use that with your kids a lot like you're really trying to tap into who they are and what they're like. You build those just really powerful relationships with people. I know that you and Sarah have a strong faith foundation as well. You integrate and incorporate that and how you raise your kids and how you interact with your community and all the things that you're doing. I just want to acknowledge you for all the things that you've accomplished. We didn't get into like the nitty gritty here today. But this was just like an intro conversation.


And, scene.


Because I wanted to have an opportunity to honor that. I am incredibly proud of all the things that you've accomplished and the things that I've seen in you and and not only what you've accomplished in terms of your material and your military career, but also who you got to be. This scrawny, kind of quiet kind of dorky. I must say it, if I showed the before and after picture. You want to see transformation? Right here? How you've been able to to transform not only in terms of your growth and obviously physically and mentally and emotionally but also in your wisdom,I really I lean on you often for perspective. You're one of the people in my circle that I go to for advice. 


One of your Consultants? That's right, embrace it. 


As a grade school teacher, consultant fees are null and void. I just want to acknowledge you for that and I so appreciate how much I've had an opportunity to see you grow. Now with your kids here and in our backyard, I get a chance to experience seeing them grow as well and have an impact and that you've allowed me opportunity throughout their lives in your life to to be a part of it. Thank you for that. 


Thank you. 


As we close what is one or two things that you're looking forward to most now moving past, you're a year out of the military now and and well in your on your way, we're obviously in the middle of a pandemic right now. There's so many things up in the air. If you had to point to a direction that you're looking forward to moving in or some destination, you're looking forward to arriving to what would that be? 


I started coaching soccer with my son and I like it, maybe because, “You are an Elementary School teacher, of course, you'd like that kind of thing.” I think one, we'll see how long I stay in this whole education thing as a School Teacher, but it'd be great one day to be able to coach kids. And again just seeing that. I don't know how to kick a soccer ball and now I do, now I could score. I think I'd like to continue doing that kind of stuff. 


To continue to nurture kids and that capacity. very cool. I look forward to that and as your personal coach. I am glad I was able to inspire you in your career. 


Valerie inspired me to be the best at everything. 


To be the best. You're nuts, but I love you. I appreciate you in my life and what you bring to our family. It's going to be fun. My hope and my intention is to bring you and Rolly, your twin because we didn't even get a chance to talk about that but I am going to save that for another conversation because I do think that there's so many things the two of you could bring and you have brought to not only our family but also you can bring to to others in your relationship and what you guys have been able to accomplish individually and collectively and who you're here to be for each other and you're in and the rest of our family too. Cool, Ricky. Thank you. 


Well Valerie, thank you very much. I appreciate this opportunity to share just a little bit about. It's about to hurt, but I love you very much. As you can see the kids need some straightening up.


Go work on their nurturing and growing and nurturing them. Thank you so much Ricky for being a guess on Time To Come Alive. Those of you who are here joining us today. Thank you so much for listening in, stay tuned. If you can go to my YouTube channel and connect to joy and subscribe and you will have notification letting when the next episode is live, and if you could also go to you can subscribe there and you can get this in your inbox and your email. Either way we'd love to connect with you all so that you don't miss a single episode and look forward to having even more mindful, conscious, connected and creative conversations with people I am fascinated by. Ricky. Thank you again for being with us today. 


Thank you. 


Bye everybody. Have a good one.

Important Links


David Icke: “Today’s mighty oak is just yesterday’s nut, that held its ground.”


How does building a toy fort for G.I. Joe action figures, a random sticker on a dresser drawer, and seeing a cool uniform, become the inspiration needed to level up in life?


Retired Major Ricardo Hope gives us a glimpse into the best and worst of times when he pledged to attend the United States Naval Academy and kicked off his journey as a U.S. Marine Corps officer.



•         What it takes to get into the Naval Academy

•         Balancing the military and academic studies

•         What happens after the Academy—from Ricardo’s first assignment to family life


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