TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan — While sitting on an airplane bound for Kyrgyzstan, the inbound American Forces Network superintendent for New Kabul Compound, Afghanistan, decided he wanted to renew his wedding vows. So, he leaned over to the inbound communications superintendent for Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, and shared his idea with her, and she said “Yes.”
It isn’t uncommon for military couples to be deployed at the same time; however, what happened the next day is unique.
“A friend and I were walking around looking at the base and I saw the chapel and said, ‘I’m going to ask my wife to marry me again over here,’” said Senior Master Sgt. Don Gurganus, who is deployed from Ramstein. “My friend was like, ‘what?’ So, I got her in front of the (personnel support for contingency operations office), dropped down on one knee and asked her to marry me again, here in Kyrgyzstan.”
The act flabbergasted Don’s wife, Senior Master Sgt. Jen Segerson.
“I was very surprised, even though he had already mentioned it,” said Jen, also deployed from Ramstein. “I didn’t realize it was going to be here. I couldn’t say no.”
Don said he felt they should take advantage of the opportunity to renew their vows before they left the transit center.
“It seemed important to do it now before we go downrange,” said the native of Wallace, N.C. “I just love her. We are going to do this forward deployment together so this will reinforce how we feel about each other right before we go. I thought that was really cool and the timing worked out great.”
The two met with members of the chapel staff and shared their idea. Not surprisingly, this was the first time Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Steven Thompson performed a vow renewal ceremony in a deployed location.
“I was so excited; this was an opportunity to do something where my heart is,” said Thompson, deployed from the Florida Air National Guard’s 125th Fighter Wing. “They’re a great couple and they are going to do very, very well. They’ve been married 10 years. I’ve been married for 38 years. So 10 years is a good start.”
Despite a decade of marriage, Don admitted he was more nervous this time around.
“I told someone it was actually like jumping out of an airplane for the second time,” he said. “The first time it is sort of scary and exciting and the second time it is terrifying because you know how scary and exciting it is.”
Jen, on the other hand, was eager about the pending ceremony.
“Who thinks they are going to have the opportunity to do this?” said the Memphis native. “It never occurred to me to do it here. This is exciting.”
In addition to the opportunity to renew their commitment to one another, the ceremony provided another benefit for the couple, who had been separated while Don was in pre-deployment training.
“At some point they are going to say ‘kiss the bride’ and that will be the first time we’ve been able to do that in 30-some days. That is a big plus,” he said.
After the couple returns from their deployments, they plan to travel around Germany.