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OCEAN ISLE BEACH—Operation Marry Me Military is in full action mode as the big day draws near.
The new nonprofit started by Oak Island’s Alecia Geddings is off to a grand start for its inaugural year. The 10-year goal is to marry 100 active military personnel on Veterans Day across the state.
This year Brunswick County is home to two beach weddings. Event planner Brittany Adams of Brittany Adams O’Neil Events of Ocean Isle Beach and Michelle Rose are coordinating the Operation Marry Me Military event for southern Brunswick County.
The deserving couple has been selected: Cpl. Jacob Lea Henthorn and Manisha Nicole Western of Jacksonville.
They will be married at 4 p.m. Nov. 11 at Knots Landing in Ocean Isle Beach. Businesses and individuals within Brunswick County have donated the entire wedding and reception.
Henthorn grew up as a son of a pastor in the Northwest. From an early age he wanted to serve in the military and more specifically the Marines. After graduating from high school, he signed the papers to join and two weeks later began basic training. He is a member of the Second Radio Battalion stationed at Camp Lejeune.
Western was born in India. Her father left her mother alone raising two daughters. Western’s mother died from an illness when she was 9 years old. She and her sister were orphaned, and Western was on the verge of being sold into marriage. Both Western and her sister were adopted by a U.S. Air Force officer and his wife and brought to the United States.
Western graduated college with a B.A. in psychology and works as a contractor with the Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune. She helps Marines and Naval personnel with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.
How they met
Henthorn and Western met during a singles Sunday school class at Jacksonville’s First Baptist Church. Henthorn says the girl of his dreams walked through the door that day, but he thought she was out of his league.
The couple started to spend time together three weeks later. Henthorn asked Western on an official date on Aug. 6, 2010. Later the same month, Henthorn was deployed with the 26th MEU, and the two were separated until May. He proposed on July 23.
“On a sunny Saturday afternoon, Jake snuck me away on a drive,” Western said. “We ended up on a beautiful beach at Fort Macon [Ga.]. While walking on the beach, he stopped me and proceeded to compare his love for me to the vastness and strength of the ocean. Then he got on one knee and proposed to me.”
But that’s not all. Henthorn knew he wanted to marry Western for months before he proposed. He bought the engagement ring in Baharan, Iran, while deployed. He kept the ring in his pocket until the case broke. He then carried the ring on his dog tags until he proposed. He kept the ring on his person for months until the time was right.
“We come from two separate worlds, but God has always had a hand on us and has made our two worlds collide,” Western said.
Red roses and ivory are the theme as the couple celebrates their love for one another, God and country. Every detail of the wedding is being taken care of by O’Neil and team. But instead of giving the couple a pre-fabricated wedding, O’Neill is letting them play a significant role in the planning process.
“I want them to go through the motions of the planning. It really brings a couple closer together,” O’Neil said. “I would never want to take that away from them.”
“It is awesome to see how many people and companies are willing to donate their services for something like this,” Rose said.
Rose joined O’Neil in Operation Marry Me Military after O’Neil planned Rose’s Aug. 21 wedding. Rose said she knew she wanted to be a part of something as special as this event.
The wedding will be on the beach in front of Knot’s Landing on Ocean Isle Beach. Guests are invited to watch from the beach. Limited seating is available for the couple’s guests only. The reception is private.
The wedding will stream live on the Internet. Everyone is invited to watch. The website will be announced at a later date.
“This is for the people who can’t be here,” O’Neil said. “For the active armed forces, the people who might not be able to leave to come to the wedding. I really want them to be able to share in the wedding, too.”
Henthorn’s father will marry the couple and a reception will follow. The couple has been given a week’s stay at Knots Landing following the wedding.
While the wedding is almost planned, there are still many ways to become a part of the event. O’Neil is attempting to arrange activities for the couple and provide them with gas and dining cards. Additional items and services are needed as well. Contact O’Neil at Brittany@knotslandingoib.com or call (704) 996-0583.
Visit www.operationmmm.com for more information on Operation Marry Me Military.