Sharing the ‘Call for Service’ and a Life Together

On the dating app Bumble, Sofia Rose Gross was drawn to the profile of Michael Alexander Haft, a former Marine who, like her, is Jewish. She immediately reached out for two reasons: She was thinking about serving in the military and, she said, she found him “hot.”

Their first date, in December 2019, was at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in Washington. From there they went for donbur in the Adams Morgan neighborhood, and then to a wine bar. Neither wanted the date to end, even when Ms. Gross, then the public policy manager of Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, had to spend 45 minutes solving the emergency of someone impersonating the account of a public figure.

Mr. Haft, 36, texted Ms. Gross, 30, suggesting a second date right after he dropped her off.

“There were no games and I loved that,” Ms. Gross said.

It was Christmas week and both had few plans, so they saw each other several nights in a row.

By the time the pandemic started, they were exclusive. Since Mr. Haft, who had started a small business, had been living at his parents’ house in the Kalorama neighborhood, he moved in with Ms. Haft in her apartment in the Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood; her roommate’s boyfriend moved in, too.

“Michael very quickly went into Marine survival mode, taking care of my people, and I felt so safe,” Ms. Gross said. “If not for Covid, we never would have spent that much time together so soon.”

Credit…Robert Evans Studios

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Mr. Haft has a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship from Washington University in St. Louis. He spent four years as an infantry officer, from 2009 to 2013. He served in southern Afghanistan in the Helmand Province, embedded with the local police in the Nawa district, and finished as a captain.

He is a founder, with Harrison Suarez, a fellow Marine with whom he had served, of Compass Coffee, a Washington-based chain with a roastery and 17 outlets.

After spending much of her childhood in Scarsdale, N.Y., Ms. Gross attended high school in San Diego. She has a bachelor’s degree in international studies and Near Eastern languages and civilizations from the University of Chicago, where she was captain of the varsity swimming and diving team.

She is now the director of communications for Anduril Industries, a defense technology company based in Costa Mesa, Calif., working out of their Washington office. She is also a public affairs officer in the United States Navy Reserve.

In September 2020, Ms. Gross was commissioned in the Navy through the direct commission officer program, which allows her to maintain a civilian and military career simultaneously, most recently serving as the chief strategy officer to Task Force 59, in the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet. At the same time, she and Mr. Haft moved into an apartment in the Shaw neighborhood, where they still live.

Mr. Haft proposed in November 2021 by the Lincoln Memorial, during a routine morning jog. Ms. Gross planned much of the wedding from a Navy base in Bahrain.

The couple were married May 28, barefoot on the beach in Nantucket, Mass., in front of 125 guests. Rabbi Aaron Miller of Washington Hebrew Congregation, where the couple are members, officiated. They received special permission to wed at the Brant Point Light on the property of the U.S. Coast Guard. At sunset, two men who served with the bride in Bahrain performed a colors ceremony to take down the flag.

In the vows they wrote, both joked about their diet. “I vow to be Paleo except on our 12 cheat days a year,” Ms. Gross said.

“You’ve helped me rediscover myself,” Mr. Haft said, “and realize that there might just be more to life than coffee.”

Ms. Gross, who is taking Mr. Haft’s name, added, “I’m so grateful that we both share this call for service to give back to a country that has given us so much.”

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