Guard members forgo wedding, say nuptials while volunteering to serve during Hurricane Irma


ORLANDO, FL (AP) — Lauren Durham and Michael Davis were planning to get married next week on Jacksonville Beach.

Their sense of duty, though – both are medical technicians with the Florida Air National Guard – trumped those plans. They decided they couldn’t sit on the sidelines while the state was being battered by Hurricane Irma.

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So instead of a tux and wedding dress, Davis and Durham found themselves in their fatigues at the Orange County Convention Center, preparing for search and rescue operations once the storm passed.

“We volunteered to come out here and support Florida,” Durham said. “We wanted to help out with the hurricane and give some relief to the citizens.”

“The Air Force lives by the creed, ‘Service Before Self,’” Davis added. “So that’s what we’re here for, to put the citizens first.”

Their fellow members of the National Guard decided the couple’s wedding-day sacrifice shouldn’t mean having to wait to get married.

Tech Sgt. Ashley Ridgeway offered to notarize their marriage and the entire Air National Guard unit served as witnesses.

They said, ‘I do,’ among disaster-response vehicles and emergency responders and spent their first night as a married couple getting ready to head out into the field the next day.

They have not decided when and/or where they might reschedule their original wedding plans.

While they were disappointed other family members and friends weren’t able to attend Sunday’s ceremony, the couple said they were thrilled to tie the knot surrounded by their National Guard family.