(WASHINGTON) — Marine Lance Cpl. Aaron Leeks was standing near the matchbox cars when First Lady Michelle Obama, helping sort Christmas giveaways to needy kids, moved right next to him.
Seeing an opening, “he struck.”
“She said, ‘yes.’ She’d love to go with me,” said Leeks, who is now awaiting White House confirmation that the president’s wife, indeed, will be his date for the Marine Corps Ball in November 2012.
“The reason she’s checking with her husband is to make sure that week is clear,” said Leeks, whose fiancé, another marine, is stationed in Okinawa, Japan.
Within the next 45 days, he heads for Afghanistan where he’ll be assigned to mortuary affairs, the unit he checked off as his first preference when he enlisted in March 2010.
“We process remains from fallen soldiers,” Leeks said. “We’re the last line from the fallen soldier to their family. Our job is to bring them back. Not too many people can do this.”
Asking the first lady to the ball, where she had stopped in to spotlight the Marines 65-year-old “Toys for Tots” project, was its own kind of daring.
Afterward, “a few people asked me, ‘Did you just ask your boss’s boss’s boss’s wife out?’”
Leeks said his request is a “thank you” for Michelle Obama’s personal outreach to military families.
“I knew how supportive the first lady is of the family structure, in general, and especially military families,” Leek told ABCNews.com by phone, from his parents’ home in Frederick, Md.
For his first Marines ball, he was date-less.
The two women he asked declined.
“I think one of them said she thought she’d have to work. The next young lady I asked just told me, ‘no’ without further explanation,” he said.
When he extended the same invitation to the president’s wife, she looked kind of shocked at first.
“Like, was I really asking her? She said, ‘Really?’ And I said, ‘Yes, ma’am’ I’m greatly honored.’”
Earlier this year, other marines also invited celebrities to a Marine Corps Ball, including Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake, who both attended events in November.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio
Michael Pearson, Faith Karimi and Ian Lee, CNN
Rene Marsh and David Gracey, CNN
Joshua Berlinger, Cheri Mossburg and Holly Yan, CNN