Both Enrique “Rique” Gwin and Kelly Gwin have served their nation through the U.S. Air Force. Last night they set aside their wings for their anchors as they made a slight switch to seafaring piracy.
“Getting to serve in the Top Six is our chance to serve the rest of the Krewe,” Kelly Gwin said. “It’s not about being at the top.”
Rique Gwin added that while it is an honor to be selected as First Mate and Mistress, “it’s not your year to be the movie star.”
The couple works with the Krewe of Bowlegs throughout the year, like the captain and the queen and the respective spouses; they represent the greater Fort Walton Beach area among other krewes and organizations.
“There’s a lot that goes into this,” Rique said. “We go to, easily, one event a month throughout the year. We go to Minnesota, and a lot of those folks come here for the Landing (Bowlegs Festival).
“We added a few more events this year,” he continued. “We went to DeFuniak, and they came here and did the same. You don’t have a parade if you don’t have the floats.”
The couple have been married for 25 years, sharing a love for each other, their family and their alma mater, the University of Alabama. A stylized “A” has been incorporated into the 65th captain’s Jolly Roger emblem as a nod to this first mate and mistress.
Their military careers brought them in and out of Northwest Florida for several years, and they settled permanently in 2014. Rique flew combat mission in Afghanistan and Iraq, and he continues to fly as a civilian instructor.
Kelly, after her Air Force career, now serves as a full-time reservist mission support officer.
Their daughters, Lauren and Andrea, continue the family tradition by attending the University of Alabama.
The couple served as Honor Guard to Capt. Billy LX, Todd Bolger, and Queen Sue Laushine.
“I think it’s neat that we’re all a part of the history of the area,” Kelly said about serving with the Krewe of Bowlegs.