elizabeth mihalcoe: super spouse, mccs volunteerAaron Pylinski | Community Writer
Those involved with the military know the importance of teamwork and in that vein is the family team. The backbone of the military is the non-commissioned officer, the backbone of the military family is the spouse. When the servicemember is on duty or deployed, the spouse shoulders the family tasks and keeps the home fire burning. One such spouse aboard MCAS Iwakuni does this and more.
Elizabeth Mihalcoe is the wife of a Navy aviation ordnanceman and a mother of two, but more than that, she’s an intrepid and talented individual who won’t let the grass grow under her feet.
“I like my down days, but overall I don't like sitting so I'm very adventurous, I like to go out and see the world. I don’t like being in one place for too long.”
“I held off going to Hiroshima with the kids because I wanted to make sure we did it with my husband. We try to include him in on the stuff that we do.”
But she’s not one to just spend her days exploring, she’s also a dedicated volunteer assisting with much needed youth sports coaching.
Ms. Mihalcoe immerses herself in coaching girls basketball, leading the Daisy Girl Scouts where she also works with the Japanese Girl Scouts, taking her son to his Boy Scout meetings, and is the lead for her husband's Family Readiness Group. Having all this time and energy isn’t something that is issued to spouses when they marry into the military family.
Ms. Mihalcoe’s motivation comes from her upbringing in a small town in Ohio. Her mother is her hero who motivated her when she didn’t want to be motivated and pushed her to set out and accomplish whatever she set her mind to. Being involved with 4-H when she was young got Ms. Mihalcoe started in sewing and even though she wasn’t devoted fully to the idea, her mother was the local 4-H advisor and kept her committed, ultimately getting her to where she is now.
“My mom is my hero, my person I look up to. She was very good at overcoming the obstacles that she had to go through and definitely helped push me to be the person I am now”
Ms. Mihalcoe isn’t just a volunteer on base, she’s also a master thread-slinger, sewing from her on-base quarters. Her work includes hemming and sewing military uniforms on occasion, making Halloween costumes, and giving sewing lessons to children and adults periodically. Her favorite projects are making teddy bears out of old baby clothes and something she calls “deployment bears” where she takes fabric from a deployed servicemember’s uniform and makes a teddy bear from it for the children waiting for a parent to return home.
“It is always fun seeing their reactions to the deployment bears because this is their toy to hold on to while their parents are gone.”
“The girl I made the gown for received lots of praise and compliments and I'm really hoping I can make a couple more this next year.”
Ms. Mihalcoe also makes custom rack curtains for the sailors while they’re out to sea, which she says is her most requested item. She is adding embroidery to what she offers, allowing her to create logos, patches and customize school accessories. She’s also incorporating Japanese culture in her work by adding local material to her projects.
Ms. Mihalcoe isn’t the lone entrepreneur and adventurer on base, though. There are a number of spouses running businesses from their home or just getting out and making the best of their time here at MCAS Iwakuni.
Ms. Mihalcoe says she loves it here and mentioned that she would like to see intramural sports for spouses that are separate from the co-ed options already available on board. For her, it was something she experienced at her husband's last duty station and helped the spouses there get out and meet other people and build strong friendships through competition. For now, it looks as though the Mihalcoe family is settling in and ready for the summer.