Apache pilots Capt. Daniel Hall, 30, and Capt. Vinny Franchino, 26, have become the first active-duty gay couple married at West Point.
The couple, currently stationed together at Fort Bliss, were married at the New York school’s Cadet Chapel on January 13, in front of friends, family and military officers. The couple proudly walked down the aisle in their blue mess uniforms and received a saber-arch salute upon leaving the chapel.
Their reception was held in New Jersey, where they cut their cake using Hall’s officer saber, a graduation gift from his grandmother.
Hall and Franchino met in 2009 and the following year chose each other for a mentorship program. It was then that their feelings for one another began to develop, but due to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” they had to keep them hidden.
They didn’t go on their first date until 2012, and immediately faced homophobia.
“That’s where some guy called us both faggots,” Franchino recalled.
Thankfully, their family is much more supportive.
“You can see the chemistry between them,” Franchino’s father told The New York Times. “Without a doubt, Vinny is absolutely a happier person today than he was before he met Dan.”
When “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed in 2011, they were free to be open and authentic about themselves.
“Vinny came out with a big splash to everyone on Facebook, posting all of these pictures of himself and Dan kissing and hugging, and I thought it was so brave that he did that,” Franchino’s uncle, Charlie Franchino, said.
Franchino, himself in a same-sex marriage, said he made a point to “help ease the shock that was initially felt by Vinny’s parents.”
When Hall was deployed to South Korea, the couple temporarily split up and began dating other people. But it wasn’t long before they realized they were happier together.