Airmen Say ‘I Do’ In Black Hawk
Two airmen said "I do"
above Iraqi soil in an Army UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter last week.
Airmen 1st Class Vernon Millican and Toni Chapman, both of the
deployed security forces contingent here, pledged to spend the rest
of their lives together before God and four of their friends during
the helicopter's training mission. The airmen are assigned to the
5th Security Forces Squadron and met a year ago while living in the
dorms at Minot Air Force Base, N.D.
The idea to get married on a military aircraft grew from
Millican's desire to propose to Chapman on a C-130 Hercules as they
flew from Kuwait City to here. "I originally wanted to propose to
her on the C-130, but as we boarded the plane, (the loadmaster)
took all our personal bags, and I couldn't get to the ring,"
"As we screamed to talk over the jet noise, Toni suggested that
we try to get married on an aircraft, while we were still
deployed," Millican said. Armed with his original desire to propose
and his future bride's suggestion for an aircraft ceremony,
Millican set his plan into action.
"(The day he proposed) was his day off, but I was working,"
"At the end of my shift, he found me in a bad mood, eating a
meal-ready-to-eat," she said. As their DVD player crooned, 'For
you,' by Johnny Cash and Dave Matthews, "(Millican) asked me to
stand up, (and) got down on one knee (to) propose."
From there, all it took was an inquiry about the Army's flying
missions. Army Capt. Keith Sandoval, a pilot, gave the go-ahead,
and off they went into the wild blue yonder. "I was glad they got
to do their ceremony in my helicopter," Sandoval said.
Chaplain (Capt.) John Von Almen performed the ceremony after
some initial hesitation. "Once I realized how loving and committed
to one another the couple was, my reservations subsided," Von Almen
Von Almen presented the couple with a certificate commemorating
the union. Since there is no formal government in Iraq to issue a
marriage certificate that can be recognized in the United States,
the couple will need to have a civil ceremony upon their return
For their five-year anniversary,
Millican and Chapman said they will renew their vows in a more
traditional ceremony so their family and friends can participate.
"(Family and friends) are excited for us, and we want them to still
be a part of our special day," Chapman said.
The couple was all smiles as the helicopter touched down from
its training mission. "I was really nervous, but (the ceremony) was
a cool experience," Chapman said.
"We did our wedding stuff backwards," Millican said. "Most
people get married in the (United States) and then go to another
country. We got married in another country and we'll return to the
"Vince and Toni's wedding ceremony was a real boost to morale in
the squadron," said Maj. Marion Dallison, commander of the Balad
Southeast security forces squadron.
“During deployments, it is easy to get focused on doing
the mission and just counting the days to return home,” she
said, “but for those who choose to keep a positive focus,
deployments are opportunities to make a difference and to grow
personally and professionally.
“Vince and Toni are great examples of professional,
motivated airmen doing great things for our country as security
(forces) members here in Iraq. They have the right focus on their
relationship and the covenant they made before God," Dallison
"I was honored to help enable the wedding ceremony to take place
here at Balad," she said.
Both airmen are scheduled to return to Minot in the upcoming
weeks. However, Chapman -- now Airman Millican -- will return one
month before her new husband.
"It will be lonely, of course, but at least I'll get to greet
him when he comes home," she said. "You have to look at the bright
side of things." Even though their ceremony is not formally
recognized by the United States, the couple will still celebrate
their anniversary Nov. 6. [ANN Thanks Capt. Monica M. Bland, 332nd
Air Expeditionary Wing, Detachment 1 Public Affairs]