Freedom Calls Wedding


LSA ANACONDA, BALAD, Iraq — The bride arrived in an armored humvee and the groom was over eight thousand miles away for a wedding held partially at a coalition base near Baghdad Saturday.

Staff Sgt. Shadow Evans, Company A, 118th Medical Battalion, Middleboro, Mass. and Sgt. Richard Everton, 42nd Division Artillery, Mashpee, Mass. were engaged and expected to be married by proxy with Evans participating by telephone from Iraq and her fiancÚ and her parents standing in at the Durango, Colorado courthouse. Colorado allows marriages by proxy.

"Oh, my goodness," exclaimed Evans as she was greeted by a large screen image of her fiancÚ and other members of her family. The video link was a surprise arranged by Maj. Rich Durost, the system administrator for the Freedom Calls Foundation facility, after he overheard someone discussing the original plans.

Video teleconferencing equipment donated to the Army by the Freedom Calls foundation allowed the wedding to take place live with Judge Martha Minot performing the ceremony from a Durango hotel suite.

Freedom Calls is a private, non-profit organization formed solely to donate video and phone equipment to the Army for constructing Freedom Calls facilities in deployed locations. Service members and deployed civilians are provided high-speed Internet, voice over IP phone calls and video conferencing capability at no charge. The foundation also coordinates events like graduations and other special family occasions often arranging for the use of equipment or providing technical expertise on the distant end.

Military officials were very exited about the event but pointed out that weddings by proxy are not for everyone. Each state has its own laws that govern marriage and soldiers should consult their chaplain or legal assistance office far in advance of making any plans.