Vietnam vet, bride of 50 years celebrate Golden Anniversary with help from technology

Photo credit Department of Veterans Affairs

Some special occasions are rare and happen only once in a lifetime.

U.S. Navy and Vietnam War veteran Gary Heckman and his wife Peach recently experienced one of those rare, golden events. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at the Martinsburg VA Medical Center, according to a VA blog post.

The lovebirds met and fell head-over-heels while working together in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. He was a lead in the rafter and roofing department and she worked in cabinets and sinks.

For Gary, the key to staying married so long is “a little bit of luck.”

Peach knows it was more than that.

“We did everything as a family, and we didn’t keep anything from one another,” she said.

While the coronavirus pandemic has caused many special occasions to be delayed or canceled, it didn’t stop Peach and social worker Mistie Haddix. They were determined to make sure this once in a lifetime celebration still took place, even with strict physical and social distancing rules in place.

Thanks to Haddix, the technology of VA Video Connect, Nursing Service, Chaplain Service and Nutrition and Food Services, the Hackmans were able to renew their vows. They exchanged rings and enjoyed cake and fellowship to create a memorable moment they will cherish forever.

“From inside his room, Gary beamed as he peered out his window at his loving wife of the past 50 years.” the blog stated.

From outside, in the medical center’s Healing Garden, Peach smiled, blew kisses and reminisced about their life together.

Reach Julia LeDoux at

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