Image: Bride and chaplain talk during videoconference wedding
Toby Talbot  /  AP
Bride Joanne Packer, left, talks with Chaplain Lt. Col. Charles Purinton, right, during her videoconference wedding ceremony in Colchester, Vt., on Thursday. The groom, Lt. Col. Leon Ensalada, is seen on the right of the video screen from Afghanistan.
updated 2/6/2004 9:04:43 AM ET 2004-02-06T14:04:43

Joanne Packer wore black and held a bouquet of flowers at the Vermont National Guard headquarters, while her husband-to-be wore desert camouflage as he sat at a table in Afghanistan.

They were connected by videophone, and there was a long pause after chaplain Charles Purinton asked Lt. Col. Leon Ensalada if he was willing to commit to the vows of marriage. A technician whispered that Purinton should ask again.

“I will,” Ensalada said to relieved laughter in the Vermont room. “I will, I will, I will.”

After Purinton asked Packer if she was willing to make the same vows, she answered, “I will, I will, I will.”

“I love you, wife,” Ensalada said before about 15 family, friends, guard members and reporters cleared out of the conference room to give the newlyweds a few moments alone.

Ensalada, 55, a physician, arrived in Afghanistan in November. The couple had talked about getting married after he returned, but decided they couldn’t wait. At Christmastime, Packer asked Vermont National Guard Adjutant Gen. Martha Rainville if she could marry Ensalada while he was in Kabul.

“There was something about the backdrop of war,” Packer said after emerging from the conference room, still clutching her bouquet.

After Rainville asked her staff to see if there was a way to allow the two to marry, National Guard attorney Ellen Abbott checked Vermont law and then consulted with another guard officer who is also a Superior Court judge, and found no prohibitions.

Packer, 51, is a psychologist in private practice, and the two met about three years ago. It’s unlikely the newlyweds will be able to see each other before he returns from Afghanistan in July or August.

Ensalada’s best man was Lt. Col. Jack Mosher of Bangor, Maine. The two met in pre-deployment training in Colorado before they were sent to Afghanistan.

“Congratulations for loving a soldier and enduring the inexplicable bond that draws a soldier to the sound of the guns,” Mosher said.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments