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Unit Shirts: Getting Started | Gallery | Pricing | Contact Info Arranged Marriage: By Diane Rybitski

Woman writes to her future husband n spring of 1997, I had cut out an address in the newspaper for soldiers serving on the peacekeeping mission in Bosnia. It asked for people to send letters to "any soldier" to help make them feel a little closer to home. This is something I had meant to do when we went to war in the Persian Gulf in 1991, but I had just moved away from home for the first time then and was trying to keep in touch with my friends and before I knew it I had missed my chance. This time however I didn't put it off. I have always admired military men and woman and had actually thought of joining myself for a brief moment when I was younger, but that thought quickly passed when I learned of basic training.

So, one afternoon in April I pulled out three note cards from my drawer and wrote a short letter to three different soldiers. I basically wrote the same thing in each letter; introducing myself, my age, where I lived, etc. When I dropped those three letters in the mailbox I didn't realize my life was going to change forever.

A couple of weeks later I received a letter from a man that was born in raised in Wisconsin just as I had been. I don't really remember the contents of the letter, but I wrote back to him again and then never heard from him after that. A couple of days later I received another letter from a man who was originally from Louisiana and was soon separating from the Air Force. The third letter I received was from a man who was currently stationed at the NATO base in Naples, Italy, but had been in Sarajevo for five months; his name was Steve. Steve told me a little about himself and his family and told me he would be going back to Italy in about four weeks and then would be going "home" to Albany, New York for about a month. He gave me his address in Bosnia and Italy and asked for me to write him again and to tell him more about me.

I was so impressed with his first letter I had to write again. Something told me that this could really turn out to be a good friendship. Little did I know of what was about to come my way.

Steve and I continued to write, and when he was in New York we spoke on the phone. With each letter and each phone call I was developing more feelings for him; which was strange since I had never met this man. I remember in the fall of 1997, after Steve had gone back to Italy, I always looked forward to Friday nights because he would call me. And occasionally I would get a call in the morning before work and sometimes a surprise call during the week. But I could always count on the Friday night calls and I could hardly wait to get through the week.

Steve and I began to discuss the possibility of us "meeting each other." Steve was coming back to the states in February, 1998 and we wanted to get together before he had to sign in at his next base which was McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento, CA. After much discussion we decided he would have a short visit with his family in Albany and a stop in Cleveland to see more family. He would then come to Wisconsin for a couple of days to meet me and my family and then we would leave for Reno, Nevada and Lake Tahoe and spend a week there.

As time grew closer and we had explained our relationship to our families; who were surprisingly very supportive. Steve and I began to ask ourselves the "what if" questions. What if he/she is not attractive (even though we did exchange pictures) what if we just don't get along...etc.

Finally on Feb. 20 I drove to Minneapolis, St. Paul to pick Steve up. I was nervous and wondered what I would do the minute I saw him. He stepped off the plane and came over to me and gave me a big hug and kiss. From that moment on I was completely relaxed and knew this was a beginning of something wonderful.

I took Steve to meet my family and showed him around the town I grew up in. On Sunday my parents took us to the airport and after a long flight delay we were finally on our way to Reno. It was late when we got to our motel, but with all of the excitement we weren't tired and in no time we hit the casinos. That night Steve proposed to me. After only being physically together for three days, but after writing many, many letters over the last nine months we both knew we were "meant" for each other. I of course said yes and we spent the remainder of the week having a great time and trying to figure out how we were going to pull our lives together with him in CA and me in WI. And where and when were we going to get married.

After much discussion we decided I would move to CA in May and we had set our wedding date for Nov. 8, 1997, in Wisconsin.

I had most of the wedding arrangements made before I moved to CA and had even bought my dress and had it fitted (now if that doesn't keep a woman on a strict diet I don't know what does). We flew back to Wisconsin a week before the wedding to finish up the final planning and on Nov. 8, after only being "physically with" Steve for only nine months and knowing him from only letters for nine months prior to that I walked down that aisle knowing I had made one of the best decisions in my life.

We have been married for about 3 1/2 years now and we are currently stationed at F.E. Warren AFB in Cheyenne, WY. I would have never guessed that one little note card would bring me a loving and supportive husband. Steve and I truly believe there was a hand from above that brought us together. Why else would he have pulled my letter out of thousands?

Semper Fi!

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