I had the opportunity last month to photograph the wedding of a man I have a lot of respect for. He is an officer in the NC National Guard and was my battalion commander when I was deployed to Iraq in 2009.
At the beginning of the deployment I had a chance to switch from being a driver to being a photojournalist with the public affairs team, my dream come true. Only one thing stood between me and the job of a lifetime, Lt. Col. Williford.
Lt. Col. Williford is a large man, and by large I mean he fills a doorway as he walks through it. He is 9 times out of 10 the tallest, broadest man in the room. Man new Soldiers to the battalion feared him, his booming voice, his demands for things to be done right, and the sheer size of him. But, what most quickly learn is that he puts what is best for others first, he does have a sense of humor, and he respects those below him, not letting his powerful position go to his head. This is why every one respects him, and although it may be tough, enjoys working for him. They respect not just his rank, his position, or his size, but they respect him as a person, a leader who cares. He demanded the best of his troops, but he gave them the best he could as well.
He did grant me permission to transfer to the public affairs team, and it is one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me.
His wedding to the beautiful and loving Raine Smith was held at the West Point Military Academy in New York, where now Col. Williford had attended years before. There were lots of beautiful vintage touches, Raine carried a gorgeous bouquet made out of broaches (picture below) and the scenery in the area was amazing. But most noticeable was the love they had for each other. I was honored to be part of this special day celebrating the love they both very much deserve.