It was 7:00 PM on a very warm and humid Monday evening in June. This young Marine had been at the church since about 5:00 PM getting dressed and receiving last minute instructions from a patient pastor on the ceremony that was about to take place. He had smoked nearly a pack of cigarettes and worn a path in the corridor from nervous pacing. He had a mission and he knew he must complete it.
A moment or two after 7:00 PM the deafening silence was shattered by a dear sweet volunteer of the Tar Landing Missionary Baptist Church who had agreed to play the wedding song as she gently caressed the keys of an ancient piano. The Marine turned his eyes to the back of the small auditorium and immediately fixed his eyes on a lovely 19 year old California girl he had met in high school in San Jose, CA.
She was standing there waiting for the cue to begin her walk down the aisle toward the unknown that was guided by vows, rings, and promises. The path was unknown to these two teen-agers. They only knew the path would be bridged by "for better or for worse," for richer or for poorer," and "in sickness and in health."
As her cue sounded, this beautiful bride, clothed in an $8.00 K-Mart clearance white dress, a hastily secured veil, and a small 7-11 bouquet of flowers glided down the aisle. She took the hand of this nervous, quivering, and gallant young Marine and joined herself to him unto death do them part. The pastor asked for rings, for the repetition of vows and promises and then pronounced them husband and wife.
A friend, now forgotten and unknown drove this giddy and newly married couple around Jacksonville honking the car horn. Just married was written on the side of the car and it was adorned with a few decorations. Once the happy couple was whisked around Jacksonville they were delivered to their first home together, a one bedroom apartment over a convenience store just outside of Jacksonville on the way to Katherine Lake. There a couple of friends had baked a one layer vanilla cake, supplied a bottle of champagne, and a small gift as token of their friendship and congratulations.
Fun and privileges of this newly married couple were cut short as the Marine was scheduled for guard duty at HMM261 Helicopter Squadron on the New River Marine Corps Air Station by 1100 PM that evening. As this young Marine walked around those helicopters his feet barely touched the ground, it was if he was floating on air.
Happy 38th Anniversary to this no longer teen-age couple!
Gregory D. and Irene H. Metcalf
June 18, 1973
June 18, 1973