Friday, December 16, 2011

First Date?: Lance Corporal Asks Michelle Obama To 2012 Marine Corps Ball

Active duty Marine, about to be deployed to Afghanistan, has a special request for the First Lady, "with your husband's permission"...

By Marian Burros

Not to be outdone by other Marines who invited Hollywood celebrities to join them at the 2011 Marine Corps Ball, Lance Corporal Aaron Leeks this afternoon asked First Lady Michelle Obama to be his "date" for next year's Ball. Mrs. Obama said she’d love to go, but will have to ask her husband’s permission. The bold Lance Corporal, age 20, told Obama Foodorama that he actually wanted to ask Mrs. Obama to dinner, but thought that was "pushing it." The Ball, he said, seemed a more appropriate choice. (Above: Mrs. Obama and Leeks, mid-question)

Mrs. Obama was at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., sorting some of the 805 gifts sent by White House staff for the annual Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Foundation campaign when Leeks made his own Christmas wish known.

A seemingly calm, but actually “quite excited” Leeks said of the possibility of a First Date with the First Lady: “She told me she would love to go with me and gave me a card and told me to email her event planner.”

“She’s doing great things for us,” Leeks said. (Update: Leeks has changed his profile photo on Facebook to be a photo of himself with the First Lady)

Mrs. Obama’s Joining
Forces campaign, launched last April, spotlights military families.

The First Lady arrived at the base with red sacks filled with 805 toys, “a 27 percent increase from last year,” she said.

Mrs. Obama began her own White House Toys for Tots drive in 2009, and this year the entire White House holiday celebration honors members of the military and their families, with the "Shine, Give, Share" decor theme.

“This is the way to cap off my holiday season,” Mrs. Obama said of her outing as a chicly clad Mrs. Claus. She wore a dark shirt with a red and green plaid collar and black slacks as she helped the Marines sort toys, before getting the invitation from Leeks.

The toys will be distributed to children in the Washington, DC area. The First Lady said that daughter Malia, 13, was surprised to discover that Toys for Tots was started by the Marines.

"You all have given so much to our country, as Malia has recognized, and you just keep giving more," Mrs. Obama said.

After the toy sorting event, back at the White House, Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that neither he nor President Obama were--at the moment--aware of Leek's request.

"The First Lady’s commitment to military families is very strong indeed," Carney said. "So I’m sure she was flattered by the invitation."

Superior officers tried to dissuade Leeks...
Leeks is in his third year of active duty and lives in Frederick, Maryland. He said he will be deployed to Afghanistan in the next two months. The Marine Corps Ball will be held next November. Leeks is actually engaged to a Marine, who is currently stationed in Okinawa, Japan.

Leeks said he hadn’t known that actors Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis attended this year’s Ball as guests of Marines, until after he asked Mrs. Obama.

“Oh, no ma’am,” he said. “I wasn’t even aware of it.”

Leeks enlisted in the Marines after 1-1/2 years in college, and plans to go back to school when he finishes his tour of duty. His superior officers tried to dissuade him from asking Mrs. Obama to the Ball, he said.

“I asked higher ups and they said it wouldn’t be a good idea.”

“I’ve been planning this for a few days and I wanted to make a respectable approach," Leeks said. "At first I thought I would ask her to dinner but I decided that was pushing it too far. So I asked her to the Ball, adding “with your husband’s permission."

"It’s appropriate to ask the husband’s permission.”

Leeks promised he would report back on the First Lady’s answer.

Mrs. Obama, who seldom responds to questions from reporters, did say she has no idea when the President will be joining her and her daughters in Hawaii; he has pledged to remain in Washington until Congress finishes its business. Mrs. Obama and the girls leave tonight. (Above: Mrs. Obama sorting toys)

She would not, however, say what gifts the girls are getting for Christmas.

*Photos courtesy of the Department of Defense

*Updated: The date of the Marine Corps Ball was incorrectly noted in the original post.