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Soldiers cap off a year in Afghanistan with marriage

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

After serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan together, Army 1st Lts. Anthony Huebner and Stephanie Thompson have promised to spend their lives together.

On Saturday, the newlyweds were given heroes’ welcomes at St. Rita of Cascia Catholic Church on Aurora’s West Side.

A caravan of two motorcycles and cars representing the Warriors Watch Riders thanked the couple for their service in the Middle East before escorting them to their wedding reception. The presentation of honor beads brought tears to some of the guests’ eyes.

The bride and groom just completed a year of duty in the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.

Huebner, a Marmion Academy graduate, met his bride in the ROTC program at Marquette University in Madison. They were commissioned into the U.S. Army after their college graduation. Both come from military families.

“If Stephanie wasn’t in the military, I still would have fallen in love with her,” said Huebner, 26.

Thompson, 24, hails from Alabama. “Every girl dreams of marrying a military guy,” she said.

Anthony is with a Special Troops Battalion, while Stephanie is in Military Intelligence. He studied engineering in college, while she studied chemistry. They began dating in their sophomore year in college and were engaged in 2008.

The newlyweds acknowledge their military careers will require work to ensure their next assignments don’t take them far apart. The couple deployed to Afghanistan at the same time, were in the same unit and based out of Germany.

“We’ll have to make sure everything is lined up perfectly so we can stay together,” Huebner said.

“We’re a month out of deployment and have time to get ready for the next deployment unless something happens,” he said.

While the parents made the wedding arrangements, the couple said they were on a fast track to make some of the other preparations.

“Our rings were handmade in Germany, and my dress is from Belgium,” Thompson said.

“This is definitely an adventure,” Huebner said.

Family members on both sides said they were happy to share the joy of their wedding day. Stephanie’s parents, Lisa and Jeff Thompson, came in from Belgium.

“It’s a great sigh of relief for us all to have them home,” said Lisa Thompson.

Carrie and Dan Huebner, of North Aurora, admitted they were worried about their son and future daughter-in-law while they were in Afghanistan.

“They are perfect for each other,” Carrie Huebner said. “I think it makes marriage easier having someone who understands the military — it is a rough life,” the mom said.

Ninety family members and guests from as far as Alaska attended Saturday’s wedding, including military friends in the wedding party who wore their dress blues. Members of the Marmion drill team presided over a saber ceremony at the church.

At the couple’s rehearsal dinner a day earlier, members of the “Welcome You Home” organization greeted them with music from a bagpiper and American flags.

As for the heroes’ welcomes, “It is outstanding to receive the support,” Huebner said. “It really makes us feel good, especially knowing our soldiers are still over there.”

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