By Sgt. Scott WolfeSeptember 14, 2017
BEAUMONT, Texas -- What resources does a couple need for a successful wedding? For one Army National Guard couple, their recent wedding included a hurricane, a member of the Musicians' Hall of Fame, and a transport vehicle that doubled as their "getaway" car.
Cpl. Donald Hamilton, a team leader with A Company, 1st Battalion, 79th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, met his now-wife Spc. Rainey Jackson a few months prior to both of them going on a deployment to the Ukraine. Jackson, who serves with the 700th Brigade Support Battalion, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, predicated their relationship on Chicago winning the Major League Baseball championship. When the Cubs won the World Series, Hamilton took it as a sign to pursue her.
"The rest," said the corporal, "is history. We're just made for each other."
Even the disruption of Hurricane Harvey, tearing up the Texas coastline, couldn't stop their plans to get married.
"We were planning our wedding for November, but then this all happened," he said, referring to the call-up to Texas and subsequent recovery missions. "What took us months and months to plan, they (unit leadership) put together in three days."
During those three days, the United Service Organization, an association dedicated to improving service member morale, lined up to provide food and drinks. Leadership arranged for photographers, and a very special guest was invited to provide music.
While out on one of their missions assisting communities recover from flood damage, Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 79th Infantry Regiment, came across a pastor trying to get waterlogged benches out of his place of worship.
"I was trying to get these oak pews out of the church when this black van comes up and out pops these Soldiers," said the church pastor. "Them oak benches must have weighed hundreds of pounds with all the water, so I gave them a sledgehammer and told them to get to work. They took those pews apart and pulled the pieces outside for me."
The pastor turned out to be Mike Deasy, a former member of the Wrecking Crew, a group of Hollywood recording artists who played with the likes of Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and the Beach Boys. The pastor was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame, in Nashville, in 2007.
Deasy provided the newly wed couple with music both before and after the wedding.
"It means a lot to play for them and the Soldiers out here," he said. "We owe them a lot."
Oklahoma Army National Guard Chaplain Brian Pacholski performed the marriage ceremony, at Regional Support Area Beaumont, a staging area for Hurricane Harvey personnel and resources. He used two glasses of colored sand poured into a third to symbolize the individual natures of the bride and groom and their lives until now. The sands were maroon and navy blue, their original choice of wedding colors.
"Just as they are unable to place each individual grain of sand back into their original containers," said the chaplain, "this is a symbol of these two becoming one."
Ten minutes before exchanging his vows, the groom tried to explain how much having his wedding while on orders during recovery efforts meant to him.
"After seeing so many people, who have lost so much, this ceremony is a bright spot in my day. But I have probably never been so nervous in all of my life."
After exchanging vows with Spc. Jackson, Hamilton changed her name tape to his, and kissed his new wife.
If he was nervous then, it didn't show.