National Guard couple weds via Internet

Shadow Evans and Richard Everton, both sergeants in the Massachusetts National Guard, were married earlier this month by videoconference'the bride in Iraq and the groom in Colorado.

Staff Sgt. Evans said her vows at Camp Cooke, north of Baghdad. She arrived for the ceremony by armored Humvee. Sgt. Everton was at the Doubletree Hotel in Durango, Colo., where Judge Martha Minot officiated. The bride had no wedding dress but received permission from her commanding officer to wear civilian jeans and a white shirt.

The video link was courtesy of the Freedom Calls Foundation of Brooklyn Heights, N.Y., which provides free Internet communications for U.S. troops in Iraq to keep in touch with family at home.

The wedding is believed to be the Army's first Internet wedding between soldiers.

Evans and Everton had originally meant to marry in the summer of 2005, after Evans' tour in Iraq was completed. They moved up the date when word came that Everton also was being mobilized. Colorado is one of only a few U.S. states that permit proxy weddings for nonresidents.

The proxy wedding was to have taken place by phone, until the Camp Cooke communications center set up by Freedom Calls offered a video link instead. The center has 50 PCs donated by Hewlett-Packard Co., 30 voice over IP phone lines, six video stations with cameras from Logitech Inc. of Fremont, Calif., networking equipment from Cisco Systems Inc. and a 2-Mbps, full-duplex satellite link provided by Loral Space & Communications Ltd. The stateside video equipment was provided by Lightning Communications Inc. of Durango.

Camp Cooke's communications center is the first set up by Freedom Calls. Operations director Ed Buckstel said the organization is working on three more centers in Iraq and wants to set up two in Afghanistan.

Buckstel said he spent Memorial Day in Columbus, Ohio, on the domestic end of a video link that let a Northrop Grumman Corp. contractor in Iraq coach his wife through a 12-hour labor.

Mr. and Mrs. Everton might repeat their vows at the Durango Doubletree after they both are back from Iraq. It is uncertain when they will celebrate their anniversary, because the wedding took place June 11 in Colorado and June 12 in Iraq.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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