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Maj. Greg Soukup, 611th Air Intelligence Squadron, received a short-notice deployment to Iraq just 32 days before his long-time planned wedding to Kristen Owens. They were married by the 611th AIS commander, Lt. Col. Christine Morris, in the squadron, Jan. 26. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Garrett Hothan
U.S. Air Force Maj. Greg Soukup
Short-notice deployment puts wedding on fast track
By 1st Lt. Candice Miller
Alaskan Command Public Affairs
ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska, Jan. 30, 2007 — Wedding bells were ringing at Elmendorf Jan. 26 when an officer from the 611th Air Intelligence Squadron and his fiancee tied the knot in the unit conference room after he received news of a short-notice deployment to Iraq.

Maj. Greg Soukup's notification came only 32 days before the large out-of-town ceremony his fiancee Kristen Owens and him had been planning. Among the numerous deployment checklist items was, "marry my love," he said.

After finding out about the deployment, the bride and groom made numerous phone calls telling 50 loved ones and many businesses the planned wedding would not happen.

They were both astonished when the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas and Alaska and Delta Airlines refunded all hotel and airline commitments after finding out about the deployment.

"These businesses have been nothing but supportive and understanding with no questions asked," Kristen said. "We are so lucky they are supportive of the military."

By Jan. 24, new plans were in motion. The bride and groom asked Lt. Col. Christine Morris, 611th AIS commander, to be their marriage commissioner and marry them at the squadron.

"I never imagined presiding over a ceremony like this. I am truly honored and privileged to help make this day happen for them," she said.

From there, the plans snowballed as the 611th Air Operations Group and 611th AIS banded together to organize a wedding.

By noon Jan. 26 there was a wedding cake, decorations, flowers, champagne, rings and a room full of supportive Air Force family members dressed in blues with cameras in hand. As Pachelbel's Canon in D played and the lights were dimmed, Kristen Owens walked down the hallway to her groom.

After the ceremony and cheers from the teary eyed crowd, Soukup said his thanks.

"A month from now we would have been with our biological family. Today, we are with our Air Force family," he said. "Thank you for going above and beyond making today unforgettable."

Soukup wasn't expecting to deploy until his Air Expeditionary Force rotation in January 2008. Since his career field is undermanned, the Air Force attached him to another AEF. Next week, he will venture to Camp Victory in Baghdad and return to his bride in about six months.

Lt. Gen. Douglas Fraser, Alaskan Command commander, had a chance to congratulate the couple.

"We are very proud of them both and thank them for their dedication to our nation and our Air Force," the general said. "I'm grateful that our nation is blessed with men and women willing to make these types of sacrifices to defend our freedom."

After all the cake was gone, the bride and groom made their way to a decorated car, but not before walking through a row of airmen tossing shredded paper like confetti. As the happy couple's wedding day ended, they enjoyed a wedding gift from the 611th Air Operations Group -- a stay at a hotel downtown as part of what Kristen refers to as their "mini moon."

Last Updated:
01/30/2007, Eastern Daylight Time
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