By Mary Liz Mulligan
Mar. 6, 2019: Forty-one years ago, my husband and I had just brought our first-born home from Lawrence Hospital to our apartment at 54 Sagamore Road. As we walked into our second-floor apartment, we heard someone following us in--right through the door! That was the day that started an epic friendship with some of the best people we have ever known. The Devlin family.
As it turned out, Clare Keenan, the mystery woman who followed us into our place, was just off her nursing shift at Lawrence Hospital in the maternity unit. Clare, her husband, Charlie, and their three-year-old daughter, Catie, had just moved into the apartment right above us a few days before. Somehow, I had not seen her while I was in the hospital. She came in oohing and ahhing over our daughter and introduced herself--lucky for us, since we had no clue what to do with her!
Then we met Charlie and Catie and spent many, many happy hours and years to follow with them. We even vacationed together and were all still speaking by the end of it!
It was instant friendship. Two years more at 54 Sagamore, our child number two arrived, and he was a wailer, so we needed more space and moved to a house. Several more additions for each family came along, and now we are all spread from East to West Coast. Thank goodness for Facebook. Clare is also godmother to our third child. Clare never misses an opportunity to send a card. She sends a card for everything that can possibly occur in your and all your children’s lives. And they arrive on the exact day they should. She puts us all to shame!
Charlie and Clare met at a soup kitchen in the Bronx and Charlie’s career path to the priesthood soon became a different path. Although Clare won him over, Charlie has been an active deacon for decades. For many years, Charlie was an attorney and held various positions in New York State courts, including family and county court judge and acting Supreme Court justice. He recently retired after five years as executive director of the Clear View School and board member for fifteen years.
After Catie, Tim was the next arrival. Tim is a very special and dedicated young man who possesses an extraordinary gift with music. He is organist and music director at St. Theresa’s Parish in Briarcliff. The final Devlin is Patrick, who is a character. He is smart as a whip and has a lightning-quick wit. He is an attorney and serves as the executive director of the Moran Center for Youth Advocacy in Evanston, IL. Their program approach focuses on legal representation, social work services, restorative justice services, and outreach and advocacy for local youths. He also could stand next to Andre Bocelli and belt out a ballad and hold his own. The Devlin family is now spread all over the U.S. and doting grandparents are spending their "golden years" staying young by chasing grandkids and grand-dogs and loving it. They help out a lot.
Catie always excelled in her studies and anything else she touched. When we went to see her in her grammar school play, Annie, of course, she WAS Annie and brought the house down. I remember that Catie’s number-one dream while growing up was to become an astronaut, which she told me when she was three. Standing at 5 feet 1 inch, she did not meet the height requirement. When we were told she was accepted at the U.S. Air Force Academy, none of us so much as blinked! No-brainer. Catie was also a member of the Cadet Choir while attending the USAFA.
Catie’s career has continued to blossom. She was just promoted (again) to colonel. Catie is currently the commander of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) Detachment 003, University of Houston. During her lifetime AF career, she has held several high-level positions involving Air Force media relations and broadcast operations. She served as the personal public affairs advisor and speechwriter for the vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as well as the operations and intelligence liaison within the office of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for Public Affairs.
Enter Tyler N. Hague ("Nick"). Nick was born in 1975 in Belleville, Kansas, but considers Hoxie, Kansas, his hometown. Nick was a classmate and friend, a lunch buddy, of Catie’s while they were attending the USAFA. As time passed, their friendship took on a new dimension. They were married in 2000. We attended the wedding in Chappaqua and it was a day to remember.
Nick and Catie graduated from the United States Air Force Academy together in 1998. Nick served in the Pentagon as a congressional appropriations liaison for U.S. Central Command.
Catie was deployed three times: Turkey from March to June of 2000, Afghanistan from January to June of 2005, and Iraq from April of 2008 to July of 2009. In 2005, Nick was deployed for five months to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, conducting experimental airborne reconnaissance. Nick was in Iraq in 2005 during the same time Catie was deployed in Afghanistan. These deployments took them away from their very young boys. Upon returning, there was a whole process of "getting to know you" with their own children. Talk about sacrifice!
Nick was selected by NASA as an astronaut candidate in 2013 and completed his training in 2015 and earned a bachelor of science degree in astronautical engineering. At 6 feet 1inch, Nick had no problem meeting the height regulation to become an astronaut!
He was selected for a mission for intensive instruction in International Space Station systems, spacewalks, Russian language training, robotics, physiological training, T-38 flight training, and water and wilderness survival training.
Nick’s first space launch, on October 11, 2018, was aboard Soyuz MS-10. I set the alarm clock and we watched live NASA coverage starting at 3:00 am. Unfortunately, he and his Russian crewmate, Alexey Ovchinin, were forced to abort the mission when a rocket booster experienced a malfunction a few minutes after the launch. They were a little banged up, but thankfully, not seriously injured. Catie and their sons, Hudson (12) and Asher (8), Nick’s parents, and Charlie were in Russia for the launch and watched it live at the launch site. I was sporting several, no, actually many more gray hairs by 3:30 am. I can’t imagine what all at the launch pad were experiencing. Word filtered back that Catie was as cool as a cucumber and their boys were totally squared away. I was a wreck.
Thankfully, Nick and Alexey, along with Christina Hammock Koch, are about to get another shot at getting to the International Space Station. On March 14, the launch is set for 3:14 pm. The mission is scheduled to conclude in mid-October. Nick has received fifteen awards and honors bestowed on him and Catie has eight major awards and decorations. I cannot even tally the number of degrees they have combined.
There is no finer group of people than this family. And did I mention that not one of them has ever been heard blowing their own horn or complaining?
The world is clearly a better place, thanks to the Devlin/Hague Family.
I hope as many of you as possible will be able to watch the launch on March 14. No setting of alarm clock required!
Pictured here: Catie and Nick reunite after space flight
Photo by NASA courtesy Mary Liz Mulligan and Catie Hague
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