By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Floridian Air National Guard Senior Airmen Michael Davis and Lauren Durham were all set to get married on the beach this weekend. Everything was ready—the dream dress, the venue, the cake, the music, the wedding party, the guests, and the minister. However, Irma decided she would invade, and these two, who had been sweethearts since they were right out of high school, had to cancel their wedding because duty had not just called, it howled through the wind and waves of a hurricane. They had to mobilize with their fellow ANG members for disaster response, and reported to the Convention Center in Orlando. Their deployment was going to be indefinite, so they informed their families and friends that for the time being, Irma had nixed their nuptials.

However, while hanging in the hangar this past Sunday morning, and eating breakfast with their buddies, an idea began to emerge: “Why not get married today?” At first it seemed like a crazy, hare-brained far-fetched joke at best, and then there came that point of decision and intention that can only be summed up with a “Yeah, let’s.” Everyone then sprang into action. They set up chairs, and the wedding canopy was a rack of rubber rescue boats. Other “decorative details” included rescue vehicles, and just in case the bride or groom fainted, there was a bevy of paramedics on board. (That, of course, was only a joke and highly unlikely.)

The bride and groom wore matching uniforms, their only option. The difference was that Michael had on a “tux shirt,” one of those black T-shirts that are designed to look like the front of a tuxedo, which had been miraculously produced by his buddies in spite of the fact that all the stores in Orlando were closed. The bride also wore no makeup, nor wowed the crowd withan elaborate hairdo, but somehow someone found some orange flowers and made a bouquet for her. The couple’s best friend happened to be a notary public, and he officiated.

Now, a cake was another matter entirely. When I was in Iraq and we had to avoid population dense environments such as the D-Facs (which is Armyspeak for Dining Facility, formerly known as Chow Halls or Mess Halls) due to a large increase in the threat level, one learned that certain MREs, (Meal, Ready-to-eat) had specific trade-offs. The vegetarian burrito MREs, while not the meal of choice for a steak-and-potatoes kind of guy, had real-live M&Ms in the package, and they were often the first to be pirated off of the pallet on which the MREs were stacked. Michael and Lauren decided that the Skittles in their MREs would have to do, and that was going to be the wedding cake, at least for now.

As much fun as I had imagining this totally impromptu celebration, what got to me, as it always does, was the attitude of the newlyweds. It never crossed the minds of either Michael or Lauren to try to get out of their duty because of their wedding.
“Service before self,” Michael said, “and it will be a great story to tell our kids one day.” I hope that when the waters recede, they get to have the wedding of their dreams, should they still want it. Mazel tov, dear Airmen, and thank you for your service!
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

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