Combat veteran marries high school sweetheart at naval hospital ceremony

12 Jan 2007 | Staff Sgt. Jeff Janowiec

The wedding had been planned for Dec. 26 at a San Diego courthouse, but when the groom found out he had an infection from a wound sustained in combat, it was pushed back nearly two weeks and ended up occurring in the hospital.

On crutches and with help from his soon-to-be-bride, Lance Cpl. Lukas Bell slowly walked his fiancée, Courtney R. Wolff, out of his room and down the hall of the West Wing at Naval Medical Center San Diego on Jan. 5.

As they neared the solarium, a handful of guests, including the hospital’s senior health care executive, Rear Admiral Brian G. Brannman, hummed the Wedding March. The two walked next to each other down the white-carpeted aisle and, although a slight struggle for Bell, stood ready to get married in front of Reverend JoAnna Caro.

With the sun shining through windows that reached the top of the ceiling, Bell and Wolff exchanged their vows of love and promised to take care of each other in sickness and in health.
Bell is a part of Company C, 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, and was injured while serving in Iraq when he was struck in the femur by a sniper’s bullet, said Sgt. Richard J. Popp, Co. C, 1st Bn., 24th Marines, who was present for the ceremony.

Bell had been in country for just over two months when he was wounded. He was sent to Germany and was then transferred to NMCSD, where Wolff, his mother and his sister showed up for support. Wolff left Eastern Illinois University on Dec. 15, one day before her graduation.
“I really needed somebody out here,” said Bell.

Even though his family left after about a week, Wolff, his Altamont, Ill., high school sweetheart and fiancée since May, stayed behind to help him.

Since arriving at the hospital, Wolff has helped Bell through many an energy-draining procedure such as the daily cleansing of his infection. Bell mentioned he was not even able to put his socks on by himself and gave accolades to his wife for the needed assistance and encouragement she freely and lovingly offered.

“That’s what we do when we love someone,” said Wolff.

One of the few Marines present for the ceremony was Lance Cpl. Douglas T. Munday, who has known Bell for two years. He said that Bell was his original fire team leader when he checked into Co. C.

Munday said Bell was a great Marine and always took care of his fellow Marines. He said that whether it was something big or small, Bell was always there to take care of the problem. Munday was grateful he could take a part in the ceremony.

“I think this is great,” said Munday, who is originally from Marion, Ind. “I’ve never seen anybody get married in the hospital before.”

After the ceremony the two newlyweds headed back to the hospital room. Bell was exhausted and Wolff helped him onto his bed, where she kissed his forehead.

Bell said his future plans are uncertain, but stated that he was determined to get better and stay in the Marine Corps as an active duty Marine. Wolff supports his decision and is willing to follow him wherever he needs to go.

“He makes me happy because he’s the one I want to be with,” she said.
Headquarters Marine Corps