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Navy wives win trip to Oscars red carpet

Feb. 23, 2013 - 10:00AM   |   Last Updated: Feb. 23, 2013 - 10:00AM  |  
Navy wives Allison Lyon, Denise Steffensen, Sarah Kribs, Tracy Vitali and Amy Cook are heading to Hollywood after winning a "Girls' Night Out" Oscars contest.
Navy wives Allison Lyon, Denise Steffensen, Sarah Kribs, Tracy Vitali and Amy Cook are heading to Hollywood after winning a "Girls' Night Out" Oscars contest. (Courtesy of Sarah Kribs)
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Meet the ‘P-3 Pretties’

Duty station: Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.
Names: Amy Cook, Sarah Kribs, Allison Lyon, Denise Steffensen and Tracy Vitali.
Ages: Mid-30s to early 40s, although official group policy is "forever 29."
Significant others: Cmdr. Mike Vitali is commanding officer of Patrol Squadron 45, the "Pelicans," which also includes Lt. Cmdr. Damon Cook and Lt. Cmdr. Tom Steffensen. Lt. Cmdr. Teddy Kribs serves with the "Mad Foxes" of VP-5. Lt. Cmdr. Jeremy Lyon is the assistant officer in charge of VP-30, the "Pro’s Nest" fleet replacement squadron.
Children: 13 among them, none older than 11.
What they’ve won: Five nights in Los Angeles; a night on the town with Kelly Ripa; $500 each to spend; seats to the red-carpet arrivals at the Academy Awards; tickets to the next-day "LIVE with Kelly and Michael" show from the Dolby Theatre, site of the awards.

Five Navy wives share bonds of friendship stretched by more than two dozen military moves among them. Reunited in Jacksonville, Fla., via the serendipitous orders of their aviator-husbands about three years ago, they'll scatter again this summer, when new assignments beckon.

But the "P-3 Pretties" aren't going quietly, and they're going to Hollywood first.

The quintet's tale of military life — its joys and sacrifices, but mostly its separations — stood out among thousands of entries to the "Girls' Night Out" contest held by the syndicated daytime talk show "LIVE with Kelly and Michael," earning the women a trip to the 85th Academy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday.

The trip comes with a five-night stay in L.A., tickets to the red-carpet pre-show arrival and VIP seats to a special show the next day hosted by Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan.

"We're getting to experience a dream of a lifetime," Sarah Kribs said in a Feb. 8 interview, three days after she and her friends won the contest. "Although we've had all these struggles, we're getting to celebrate our love for one another and our friendship."

An emotional entry

Kribs and Denise Steffensen have been friends since their husbands were in flight school together. Through the years, their social circle expanded to include Amy Cook, Allison Lyon and Tracy Vitali — a fivesome that had been based together infrequently but reunited about three years ago in Jacksonville.

Steffensen, a big "Live" fan, caught the contest announcement a few months after giving birth to her third child, a boy. She gave it "a fleeting thought."

When it popped up again, she took her fleeting thought to the group, which pounced on the idea. They drafted Kribs to write the entry letter.

"She's the one that's really good with words," Steffensen said.

Beyond the friends' background, the letter offered raw data — 28 military moves among the five families with 13 children, and 144 months of separation between husbands and wives brought on by Navy duties.

"I had to write it in two sections because it was so emotional," Kribs said. "It was so hard to come to terms [with it], that we were going to be separated so soon."

The story of the P-3 Pretties — a name Kribs said she came up with offhand about a year ago at a social event and "never thought it would go national" — found a receptive audience.

The women learned they'd won Feb. 5, during a Skype video interview with show producer Michael Gelman, who initially told them they were semifinalists. Ripa then walked into the frame for the big reveal: They were heading to Hollywood. Polite excitement gave way to screams and hugs.

"We were crying," Steffensen said.

It's not the typical trip for a group used to stressful travel, but that doesn't mean it's without pre-deployment planning, like shopping and mission objectives.

"I would love to see Bradley Cooper and Ryan Gosling," Lyon said. "And everybody wants to see George Clooney."

Vitali said the trip was "a chance to meet Kelly and go out with her — really have nothing to worry about. Shopping, dancing ... meeting George Clooney."

All of the husbands want autographs from Strahan, a former defensive end with the New York Giants. At least one of the daughters wants an autograph from "Twilight" star Taylor Lautner. It's shaping up to be a busy journey — likely the final one the group will share before another separation.

"This is the last big hurrah," Vitali said. "A big, big hurrah."

And it's a celebration that goes beyond the P-3 Pretties, Kribs said.

"We won this contest, but we really represent all military wives," she said. "We have this special friendship, but there are many friendships that parallel ours. It's a struggle for anybody; it's a joy for everybody; and we don't want to forget them in this."

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