Elderly military couples renew vows on navy reunion trip to Charleston

By Stacy

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- With spring -- and love -- in the air, 14 elderly military couples renewed their vows at the Summerall Chapel at the Citadel Friday.

It was just another stop on the group's navy reunion weekend. But this stop meant a little more.

"Well, I don't do this everyday!" Don Waldrop said.

Fourteen elderly military couples totaling hundreds of years of marriage renewed their vows Friday at the Summerall Chapel at the Citadel. Avis and Don Waldrop were among those in the ceremony. They've been married for 58 years.

"I started feeling it more than I thought I would," Don Waldrop said as he choked back tears.

Colvin Cochrane took a bus from California to Alabama to marry Joyce 61 years ago. They even went to Mississippi to get married, so they wouldn't have to endure the three-day waiting period required in their home state. On Friday they joined together in what they called their first real wedding.

"We eloped and now we are officially married! Figured it might work now," Cochrane said.

All of the Navy veterans gathered in Charleston for the reunion weekend served on the USS Sea Poacher, a submarine based in Charleston. Cochrane's son-in-law's planned the ceremony.

"Some of the ladies said, 'Oh, I was married in Charleston' or 'I got married around that time.' Median age now 77. Back then they were 17, 18, 19 years old when getting married. So we said, 'Let's have a renewal of the vows,'" organizer Vincent Sottile, Jr. said.

"It tells the story of America. It tells of the fiber and character of our men and women who have served for so many years. It's just a real privilege for me to be able to participate," Rev. Frank Seignious said.

Under the eye of God, the meaning was clear.

"They've gone very quickly. Doesn't seem like we've been together that long. Of course at our age nothing seems like that far back! Time goes. You need to really make the best of what you have," Don Waldrop said.

It's a simple reminder to enjoy life, and a testament to something old as time: love.