Thursday, August 28, 2003


Two Florida Guardsmen on patrol stop long enough to marry Iraqi women.

And now the challenges begin.
The soldiers met after the Iraqi women, both English-speaking doctors, took jobs working with the Americans. The Iraqi women and American soldiers could flirt and visit. But as friendships deepened into romance, U.S. officers considered the relationships a security problem. The guardsmen were prohibited from fraternization during combat.

Nevertheless, a couple of weeks before the ceremony, the soldiers converted to Islam in an Iraqi court. Finally, with an American reporter watching, it took less than a half-hour in the morning sun to hear the judge's recitations of the vows. The two couples exchanged rings, signed the paperwork and were married.

The weddings illustrate the gray areas of the American-Iraqi relationship in this city, where troops are liberators and occupiers, where the United States hopes to win over most Iraqis while still fighting others.

The marriage-on-patrol was necessary because the soldiers' superior officers were trying to block it.

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