Sisters in Service
MIDN 1/C Gee Mi Jorde and MIDN 4/C Gee Yong Jorde
In the summer of 2011 Gee Mi Jorde joined the military. More specifically she was accepted to the United States Naval Academy. Three years later her sister, Gee Yong Jorde was also accepted.
Throughout their lives these women were told that with hard work, they could do anything and be anything. With the wide integration happening across even those most exclusive of military communities, that statement has never been truer.
"We knew growing up that we wanted to go to college and find a job that was rewarding for us personally, but that also gave back to our community and country," said Gee Mi. "When it came time to choose, we were encouraged by a number of family friends who were Naval Academy graduates to strongly consider the school. For some reason, they thought our personalities, despite being rather opposite, were good fits for the school."
At first both girls felt that perhaps the idea of living a military lifestyle 24/7 throughout college would be overwhelming. But once they attended the Academy's summer seminar, the sense of camaraderie they felt amongst the Midshipmen changed all that. They began to see themselves not only as Midshipmen, but as contributing members in the United States Navy.
"We chose the Navy because it was a service that we were familiar with, as we grew up around Navy/Marine Corps bases our entire lives and spent seven years in Yokosuka, Japan (2001-2008) during the peak of our childhoods," said Gee Mi. "We also looked forward to the opportunity to serve in Japan since we are familiar with the language and culture and the needs of the Navy in Far East Asia."
Looking back on their childhood now, they realize just how fortunate they were, with respect to their quality of life, their parents, and their exposures.
"We now realize that we took a lot of things for granted, like how our parents told us our only "job" was to ensure we did well in school, remain active in sports that we enjoyed, and do something good for our community," said Gee Mi. "We distinctly remember going to local orphanages during Christmases in Japan and as soon as we moved to Washington State in the summer of 2008, we all volunteered at the local food bank. With our mother keeping us honest, we all stayed out of trouble for the most part and in return, we traveled extensively throughout Asia, visiting new countries every year."
Once their father retired from the Marine Corps, their mother made it quite clear that she did not want her children to have a transient childhood. Gee Mi was born in Yokosuka, but then the family moved to Georgia where Gee Yong and Erik, their younger brother, were born.
"We lived in Georgia for six years, moved to Yokosuka for seven, and then have been in Washington State since then," said Gee Mi. "We've been very fortunate to have found stable and supportive communities in each place."
Although they are not twins, the girls have spent most of their lives sharing things, even a first name.
"Our names definitely throw people off, but fortunately we have very different personalities and features," said Gee Mi. "Our dad wanted the two girls to have Korean names, since we're half-Korean, half-Scandinavian (our mom is Korean, our dad half-Swedish, half-Norwegian) and our mom has a Korean name. I guess the idea was that our first name reflects our Korean heritage while our last name is obviously Scandinavian. The first part of our name, "Gee," means wise, and the "Mi" is beautiful. Our mom's name is Sun Mi and they wanted me to have part of her name."
"My "Gee" is the same, but "Yong" means glorious," said Gee Yong.
Despite these similarities, they have very different ideas for where they'd like their careers to lead.
"I intend to explore the foreign area officer community," said Gee Mi. "I also know that I want to attend graduate school for environmental studies/policy so we'll see how that plays out."
"I'm interested in the public affairs aspect of the Navy," said Gee Yong. "I also want to fit grad school in as well after some experience in the Fleet."
Both women are hoping to end up in Yokosuka for their first tour as a surface warfare officer.
"Growing up in Japan had a profound impact on our career choice," said Gee Mi. "Our mother grew up between Korea and Japan so she introduced us to both cultures and languages and we even have friends of three generations there. We hope to take our strengths and our assets and channel it toward something productive. Our father's passion for cultivating US-Japan relations and seeing him so involved with maintaining this vital alliance has left a desire for us to follow in his footsteps. With the current security environment in Asia as it is, it is crucial that the US maintain its friendship and healthy alliance with Japan and its neighboring countries. The presence of US forces forward deployed in Japan allows for us to use our interests and language/cultural awareness for the benefit of both countries."
Both women also hope to become strong role models, and can only hope to emulate the role models they've had.
"No doubt our mother is both our number one female role model," said Gee Mi. "In fact, our mom and dad were always the role models we shared. They say that behind every great man is a great woman. We should say "greater woman" because that is the case with our mom. She recognizes each of our individual strengths and weaknesses, ensures that we know it too, but then helps us compensate for our weaknesses with our strengths. And all along the way she's our biggest supporter. She always keeps us in check, but never limits us and doesn't allow us to achieve anything less than our best. She did that for our dad and she does that for each of us kids."
And Gee Mi has also found another role model in Lt. Cmdr. Leslie Slootmaker.
"She is a former aide to my current Superintendent and we met two summers ago in Rhode Island. I admire her for her quiet, gentle and unassuming attitude, yet she is also willing to take on great challenges (as evidenced with her EOD pin) and truly inspires respect in others."
This year Gee Mi will graduate, followed in three years by Gee Yong. Young women with big dreams and nothing but opportunity and open doors in front of them. Gee Mi has even considered submarine duty, an assignment that at one time wouldn't have even been an option. Throughout history parents have told their children they can do anything and be anything; for the Jorde sisters it may actually be true.