FARMINGDALE - While for most couples Valentine's Day is all about flowers and chocolates, 10 Long Island veterans and their spouses chose this day to express their love by renewing their wedding vows.
Walter and Patricia Hetzel, of Levittown, got married during the Korean War right before Walter was drafted. Forty-two years, three children and six grandchildren later, the Hetzels said "I do" once again alongside nine other military couples.
Suited up in their old uniforms, veterans of several wars going as far back as World War II stood below towering fighter planes at the American Airpower Museum, promising to once again stand by the person who stood by them, and in some instances served alongside them, in the throes of war.
Franchesca and Sean Keeffe served together in Iraq. They recall how they had to find creative ways to date, like going to meals together at the chow hall.
One thing that unites the 10 couples is that all of them spent months, and sometimes years, apart, but the periods of separation did nothing to extinguish their love.
Altogether, the 10 couples celebrated close to 400 years of marriage.