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Face of Defense: Warriors Wed in Afghanistan

By Army Staff Sgt. Dave Overson
115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Aug. 28, 2012 – Weddings generally are associated with spring and summer, champagne and cake. They usually are new beginnings and grand celebrations with family and friends, not with camouflage uniforms, mortar rounds and danger of hostile fire.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Newlyweds Army Sgt. Drew Fidler and Army Spc. Michelle Williams are surprised with an impromptu wedding reception on the roof of the Joint Operation Center at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Dave Overson

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

However, for one Army couple, the wedding was light on champagne and heavy on Army decorum. After a lot of research, emailing, long-distance phone calls and paperwork, the soldiers were married while in Afghanistan.

Weddings do not happen very often in combat zones; in fact, military chaplains do not perform marriages in the combat theater. So after consulting with their leadership and the legal department here, the soldiers found a way to tie the knot legally.

Army Sgt. Drew Fidler, 27, from Glen Rock, N.J., and Army Spc. Michelle Williams, 27, from Auburndale, Fla., were married here Aug. 22 by double proxy.

“I think weddings are pretty much for other people,” said Williams, a combat medic with 1st Infantry Division’s Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion here. “All that really matters is marrying the person you love.”

In a marriage by double proxy, the couple obtains and completes the required state forms online and designated proxies stand in for the bride and groom at a marriage ceremony. Within a few weeks, the couple receives a legal marriage certificate.

“We’ve known we wanted to get married for a long time,” said Fidler, an infantryman with the 1st ID’s deputy commanding general for support team here. “We just didn’t want to wait any longer, so this worked out perfectly.”

The nuptials were celebrated with an impromptu wedding reception on the roof of the Joint Operation Center building at the Combined Joint Task Force 1 compound, where a small group of friends and co-workers helped them celebrate with nonalcoholic beer and a wedding cake baked at Fort Riley, Kan., by the wife of Army Brig. Gen. Felix Gedney.

Gedney, deputy commanding general for support for 1st ID, CJTF 1 and Regional Command East, said his wife wanted to bake the cake herself, and that his son made an Army figurine decoration to place on top, alongside decorative doves.

“It’s a great story about two great American soldiers, both serving their country in Afghanistan,” Gedney said. “They can now look forward to life as a military family, and I wish them both the best for the future.”

Williams, University of South Florida graduate, said the couple plans to have a ceremony on a beach in Florida within the next couple of years to celebrate with their families.

“It feels awesome, amazing,” Fidler said. “It’s special to get married here at Bagram Airfield. I never thought it was possible.”


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