National Guardsman in Iraq Marries Fiancée by Video Conference

Minnesota National Guard Spec. Keith Swanson and Amanda Watson had planned a July wedding with 500 guests.

Instead, they had a long-distance wedding on Valentine's Day. He blew her a kiss and she puckered up to his image on a 72-inch screen.

After saying their vows, the couple celebrated their new life together over a three-hour video teleconference connection — she at the National Guard Armory in Inver Grove Heights with about four dozen guests, he at Camp Al Assad in Iraq.

Keith Swanson is a member of the Mankato-based Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry. He left for Iraq last March and had expected to return next month, but the tour was extended until August.

After the couple learned that Swanson wouldn't be coming home in March, the groom's aunt Nicole Kilanowski e-mailed Gov. Tim Pawlenty's office asking how a ceremony might be arranged. The e-mail was sent along to the National Guard, which organized Wednesday's ceremony.

Sometime in 2008, the Swansons plan another wedding ceremony — in person.