By Sandi Moynihan
It was February, and their August wedding seemed far, far away.
So far, in fact, that Navy Seaman Apprentice Dustin Bennett and his now-wife Erin – who were living in Yokosuka, Japan, ahead of Dustin’s pending deployment – decided they couldn’t wait to say their “I dos.”
So they booked a last-minute trip to Guam and secretly eloped.
“We decided to get married in Guam because we have been trying to plan something for about 10 months and with the military Dustin has never really had the time,” the couple wrote in an email. “Guam was close to us and was the honeymoon we probably wouldn’t get otherwise.”
After arriving on Guam and getting married, the Bennetts wanted to find a place to relax and enjoy their first few moments as husband and wife. Since they didn’t know anyone else on the island, they went to USO Guam.
USO volunteers spotted Erin’s white dress and Dustin’s dress uniform and called USO Guam Programs Manager Edmund Lebita to see if there was anything they could do to help the Valley Center, California, natives celebrate.
“This is what we live for at the USO, right? These moments,“ Lebita said. "That’s what I love doing the most.”
Lebita drove around downtown Guam and purchased a gourmet cake and a wedding card before heading back to the center.
“They were really surprised,” Lebita said.
After receiving the cake and opening the card, the Bennetts snapped a commemorative photo in USO Guam’s “Love Notes” frame alongside some USO Guam volunteers and staff.
“We didn’t have family with us to celebrate, so we were kinda bummed,” the couple wrote, “but [the USO] made this experience amazing for us.”
The Bennett later repeated their marriage vows at a formal ceremony in August in front of friends and family.
“We will never forget what [the USO] did. We never expected anything like that to happen.”