Operation Hitched: Wedding ceremony for deserving military couple
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
Some military couples never get their dream wedding. For others, it takes a bit longer than expected.
That's certainly the case for Sgt. Augusto "Tito" Pineiro, who after several tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan will finally give his wife the wedding of her dreams on Saturday.
"We were going to try and do something when I retired from the military, try to have a ceremony," said Tito. "This was like a blessing."
The ceremony is the first of its kind and it's all because of a local vendor with a great idea. It's called "Operation Hitched."
Kris Cobb, owner of the small event venue the Barn at Drewia Hill in Sale Creek, started the program last year as a way to give back to deserving military families.
"They're just doing what they do and they just don't get appreciated enough," said Cobb. "So we're trying to think of what we could do to just pay it forward, give back."
Cobb said she reached out local businesses and vendors and they are donating everything from food, to music, and flowers for Tito and Nina's special day.
"I can't wait to see their faces! There's a lot of surprises and I'm very excited," she said.
Cobb sent out a call online for deserving military couples last year. Tito and Nina's story immediately stood out.
Tito joined the army right after 9/11, and served eight tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. On his last deployment he survived seven IED blasts, resulting in three Purple Hearts.
On the home front, Tito fought through PTSD and traumatic brain injury, and on May 20, 2016 he ran 100 miles in a gas mask, setting a world record to honor those soldiers not lucky enough to make it home.
It wasn't just his story that impressed Cobb. It was Tito's desire to give his wife the ceremony she never had that stood out.
"Every marriage has its struggles, ups and downs," said Tito, "but she's always been there for me through all the deployments, through all the headaches, through all my nightmares, everything that I've had to suffer with."
"You know being an Army wife isn't easy and I commend her on that, for raising three beautiful kids. With this wedding it's something to give back to her and hopefully she can remember it forever," he said.
Seven years after their simple courthouse wedding, Tito and Nina will finally have their ceremony with friends and family to share their love story.
"It was really just me and him at the courthouse, and this way they can all be there, share the love and experience everything in the moment," said Nina.
Tito said he recently learned he'll be deployed for the 9th time at the end of July. He's be deployed to Africa.
Kris Cobb said she challenges all other venues in this area to do something similar to "Operation Hitched" just one day out of the year as a way to give back to the military, law enforcement and first responders.
The celebration for Tito and Nina will be Saturday, July 2nd at 5 pm.
Cobb said this will be the first of many "Operation Hitched" ceremonies.