Petty Officer 1st Class Stephen Morrison, center, stands with his wife, Harmonie, in white, along with friends and family that celebrated their wedding ceremony on the fantail of the Coast Guard Cutter Acushnet in 1998.
Petty Officer 1st Class Stephen Morrison holds a wedding photo album on the bridge of the Coast Guard Cutter Acushnet with his wife, Harmonie, standing by his side. The Acushnet, a 64-year-old Coast Guard cutter known as "Queen of the Fleet" because it is the oldest serving cutter in the fleet, was where the Morrisons were married 10 years ago.
Story last updated at 12/17/2008 - 3:45 pm
JUNEAU - Petty Officer 1st Class Stephen Morrison, a Coast Guard intelligence specialist, held hands with his wife, Harmonie, and their 9-year-old son, Brendan, as they stood on the pier in silence looking at the Coast Guard Cutter Acushnet for the first time in 10 years.
After meeting in Eureka, Calif., Stephen and Harmonie exchanged vows on the cutter's fantail during Independence Day in 1998. A few weeks later, they left for a Coast Guard training and would not see the Acushnet together again until Sept. 23, 2008.
Stephen stood on the pier, turned towards his family and said, in excitement, "Well let's go see it."
"Request permission to come aboard," Stephen said as he saluted the quarterdeck watch while walking across the brow from the pier to the Acushnet. His family walked just behind him. Once they walked across the pier they gathered around the Acushnet emblem as they looked around the bow.
Walking across the bow of the Acushnet brought back memories from 10 years ago for both Stephen and Harmonie.
"I felt old, but it did feel like seeing an old friend, ... showing my son my first ship and the place where we were married," Stephen said. "My wife and I know, that if not for being stationed in Juneau, Alaska, we would have never seen the Acushnet again."
"It was a little surreal," Harmonie. "I wasn't sure we would ever see the Acushnet, let alone be able to take our son on board."
Stephen and Harmonie walked on the starboard side of the Acushnet and eventually
made their way through several narrow ladder wells onto the bridge. While they stood on the bridge, a Acushnet crew member guided them through the cutter. They walked around the bridge and realized not much had changed other than the addition of new electronic systems. Stephen and his wife gathered around the wooden authenticated helm. As Stephen recalled taking the helm of the cutter, Harmonie, who brought a wedding book filled with photos, showed Stephen a picture of them standing on the fantail.
They began leaving the bridge and walked back outside into the pouring rain to walk down several narrow ladder wells toward the fantail.
During the walk back, Stephen recalled meeting his wife for the first time at a roller hockey rink in Eureka, Calif. He was playing hockey with a few of his friends two days before Christmas in 1997. Harmonie spotted him because he was wearing her favorite team shirt. She was quite amazed because three days earlier she had sat on Santa Clause's lap wishing for a hockey player. She approached him and they began talking about hockey. They began seeing each other more, dating and eventually sending letters while Stephen was underway in the Bering Sea on the Acushnet. When he got back from the Bering Sea patrol he asked Harmonie to marry him.
The idea of getting married on the fantail was not their original plan. They were set on heading to the courthouse to receive their certificate. His friend mentioned getting married on the fantail while the Acushnet was in "Full Dress," which means it is lined with flags from the bow to the top of the mast and to the stern of the ship to commenmorate the 4th of July. There are only two required days a year a ship must be in "Full Dress" and that was one of them. Stephen's shipmates would help set up an area for family and friends to stand.
"It felt like everything just fell into place," Stephen said. "When you have great shipmates helping you out, it makes everything easy. Even the night before the wedding, I was relaxed and not freaking out."
When Stephen, Harmonie and Brendan made it down the last narrow ladder well, they realized it was an experience of a lifetime. Even the pouring rain could not dim the bright smiles they all wore. The family then walked over and stood at the area where they exchanged vows and then looked into their photo album of the picture taken of them 10 years earlier,
The Morrison family made their way off the Acushnet. As they stood on the bow of the Acushnet and remembered the great memories. Stephen and Harmonie kissed each other before departing the Acushnet one last time.