When Southold Kindergarten teacher Kathy Muller met her brother’s college friend, Patrick Flynn, who was visiting their Jamesport home several years ago, there was a certain spark to their conversations that led her to want to know him better.
She called up Mr. Flynn, who’s from New Jersey, to invite him to a New York Giants game. But Mr. Flynn, an Army Captain in the First Infantry Division, was about to drive back to Fort Knox to prepare for deployment and he initially declined.
He thought over his decision for a few minutes and realizing he was being foolish called her back and accepted the offer. And now, after two deployments, one in Iraq for 15 months, and a year in Afghanistan, he’s back home. That one phone call changed the course of his life and in June he and Ms. Muller plan to marry at Our Lady of Good Counsel R.C. Church in Mattituck.
Capt. Flynn returned home to New Jersey last week and on Thursday drove out to Southold to reunite with his fiancée. He arrived in the afternoon while school was still in session. And as much as he missed his sweetheart, he also wanted to thank her students, who gave up their extra Halloween candy last year and sent it to his company in Afghanistan.
The kindergartners less-than-gladly parted with Snickers and Milky Ways, candy corn and lollipops and every other kind of candy they could think of. A few of the students admitted they often thought longingly of the candy they’d sent to the other side of the world. But they were proud to think that their donation had helped the soldiers realize that someone back home cared.
Kindergartner Bryan Henry thought they’d sent somewhere between 100 and one million pieces of candy and Kaitlyn Heath was glad they’d sent however much candy it was to a bunch of soldiers. Thinking big, Flynn Klipstein hoped Capt. Flynn would make him the honorary Captain Flynn.
The real captain was a few minutes late, and that’s because, in keeping with Ms. Muller’s wishes that he not bring her flowers for Valentine’s Day, he stopped to buy them early. She gets mad when he gives her flowers, he said, but not all that mad.
He also brought a library book to read, “The Impossible Patriotism Project,” about a class full of students who try to think of the best way to show their patriotism.
But first things first.
“My guys really appreciate the candy. Thank you,” he said, adding that the kids did their own Impossible Patriotism Project by caring enough to send the sweets.
The kids were full of questions. They wanted to know what all of the ribbons on his dress uniform were for. They wanted to know how to salute. They wanted to know what it was like to jump out of airplanes. They wanted to know if the food in Afghanistan was any good. And, most importantly, they wanted to know what he did for Halloween.
“For Halloween, I dressed up as an Army guy, but I do that every day,” he said. “We went Trick or Treating. Someone sent a big orange Trick or Treat basket to my XO [executive officer] and we went door to door asking other guys in the company if they had any candy” to give.
Kaitlyn told Capt. Flynn his shiny medals were beautiful as she practiced saluting him. Capt. Flynn bestowed Flynn Klipstein with the honor of being the new Capt. Flynn. And when he finished reading, the whole class ran up and gave their teacher’s fiancé a big hug.
“Make sure you return that library book,” Kaitlyn told him.
“Oh, don’t worry. I will,” he said. “I don’t want to get in trouble.”