War speeds up two local weddings

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 24, 2003

[03/23/03]Military callups hurried weddings for at least two Vicksburg couples, each with a husband or wife in the same Reserve unit.

Cassandra Patterson, 23, and Harrol Thomas, 30, both graduates of Warren Central High School, were planning a June wedding. Instead, after she was called up, they were married March 16, the night before her deployment.

And Latoya Carson and Antonio Calvin, both 20-year-old Vicksburg High School alums, were planning a March ceremony. After his callup, they moved their wedding date to Feb. 12, the day before Calvin was set to depart.

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By the time Patterson and Thomas got their marriage paperwork in order, a justice court judge “was nowhere to be found,” Thomas said. “We had to get a licensed preacher to sign it.” They asked for and received from Warren County Circuit Court Judge Isadore Patrick a waiver of the required three-day waiting period, he added.

Both Reservists are deployed with Jackson’s 3rd Personnel Command, which deploys worldwide and plans, coordinates and directs personnel operations in support of the Army. Both are stationed at Fort Benning, near Columbus, Ga., though Calvin, a private first class, was home Saturday on his third weekend pass since being called to active duty, he said.

The two reservists never met each other until the night before Calvin was to leave. He said he, his new bride, his mother, and Patterson and Thomas all happened to be eating in the same Jackson restaurant, Country Fisherman, at the same time.

“Cassandra works with my mom in a casino,” he said. “My mom pointed her out to me.” The two would serve overseas together with their entire unit if at all, he added.

Latoya Calvin also works in the same casino, Isle of Capri, she said.

The Thomases, engaged for a year before their rushed nuptials, have a 6-month-old son, Isaiah. And the Calvins, who Antonio said were engaged for two years, have one child who turns 2 on April 6 and are expecting a second on April 5.

Both couples plan to use cellular telephones to keep in touch while the Reservists are deployed, even if that means purchasing the special phones they both say are necessary to place or receive cellular calls while in the Middle East.

“We’ll try to e-mail each other, send a letter or communicate over the phone at least once every other day,” Antonio said. A student on leave from Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, his job with the personnel-support unit involves “continuing to rotate soldiers in and out to keep the unit at full strength,” he said.

Cassandra Thomas was a student in elementary education at Alcorn State University in Lorman when she received her call, her husband said. She is an administrative specialist with her Reserve unit, he added.

Harrol Thomas, who attended Tougaloo College in Jackson and is a manager at Advance Auto Parts, 3404 Halls Ferry Road, said Cassandra’s parents help care for Isaiah. “It’s hard being away from her baby,” he said. “This will be her first Christmas to be away.”

From the orders they have received so far, both Reservists are expected to be away from home for at least a year.

On Saturday, the Calvins were following the war coverage on television from their Oak Street home.

“From our side, it looks pretty good,” he said. “Right now we don’t have many casualties, so that’s a good thing. Hopefully, they (Iraqi civilians) won’t have many, also.”