Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Peterson Space Observer

Couple’s path to marriage winds through deployment

Senior Airman Donald Nolen and Senior Airman Sheri Nolen walk down the aisle as husband and wife after their wedding ceremony Aug 4, 2010, at an air base in Southwest Asia. The Nolens are members of the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. They were married by proxy on July 12, 2010, through the state of Montana. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt April Wickes)

Senior Airman Donald Nolen and Senior Airman Sheri Nolen walk down the aisle as husband and wife after their wedding ceremony Aug 4, 2010, at an air base in Southwest Asia. The Nolens are members of the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. They were married by proxy on July 12, 2010, through the state of Montana. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt April Wickes)

by Staff Sgt. Jeremy Larlee

380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) — Young girls often dream about what their perfect wedding will be like. They dream of the perfect dress, cake, ring and who their dashing groom will be.

Senior Airman Sheri Nolen spent her childhood in Denver more interested in playing in the dirt and running around.

“I never really thought about a wedding when I was a kid.” she said. “I was too busy blowing things up and playing with Barbie dolls.”

As she got older, she thought a wedding on a cruise would be ideal. But, Airman Nolen was skeptical that she would ever find the right person with whom to spend her life.

Then she met Senior Airman Donald Nolen.

Airman Donald Nolen is a communications navigation maintainer in the KC-10 Extender and Airman Sheri Nolen is a crew chief on the same airframe.

Although both were assigned to the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron here at the time of their marriage, the path to their meeting and marriage was an interesting one.

The two met at McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., in April 2008, and became fast friends. In October of that year, they started to see each other romantically.

Airman Nolen said she knew early on she had met the person she could spend her life with.

“His smile and his eyes are amazing,” she said. “He is always willing to help anybody in need. He will literally give you the shirt right off his back.”

Airmen Nolen was equally smitten with his future bride.

“She is the kindest and most amazing person I have ever met,” he said. “She has the most amazing energy, and I look forward to spending the rest of my life with her.”

In 2010, he started to plan out his proposal to his future bride. He thought of doing it adventurously while the two were skydiving.

Then, the needs of the Air Force changed their plans.

In April, Airmen Nolen was given five days of notice that she would be deploying to Southwest Asia. Fortunately for the couple, her future groom had a planned deployment to the same location in June.

The two Airmen quickly went to plan B and discussed options of how to get married.

After some research, the couple found out that they could do a double proxy marriage through the state of Montana. A double proxy marriage is one where two proxies stand in for the absent parties. Neither the bride nor the groom needs to be present for the ceremony. Montana is the only state in the U.S. that allows this type of marriage.

The marriage became official July 12.

Airman Nolen said it was a unique experience for her.

“We pretty much just emailed a couple of certificates,” she said. “It really felt more like we were applying for credit cards than getting married.”

So the new couple would have some type of ceremony, their coworkers planned a wedding ceremony here Aug. 4.

The ceremony had a few touches that reminded the attendees of the fact that it was in a deployed location. The bride had a train made out of Airman battle uniform material and the groom had a boutonniere made of pink tissue paper pinned to his uniform.

The couple was not going to get a honeymoon though, as the bride returned to McGuire AFB due to the end of her deployment here.

Airmen Nolen said that even though it has been a strange and twisting road to marriage, she wouldn’t change a thing.

“If I had the chance to do this differently, I would choose to do it the same way all over again,” she said.

To Top