For months they talked about the decision and Oliver began adjusting to the idea. In April 2010, Kohlman left for 10 weeks of basic training. Oliver wrote once, sometimes twice a day. Kohlman replied with as many letters as he could.
“It was hard,” Oliver says, “But it was never not do-able.”
For more than a year they were apart, as Kohlman went through one training school after another to become an airborne platoon leader. In August 2011, Oliver moved to Fort Bragg in North Carolina to be with Kohlman. During a long weekend in Atlantic City that October, he proposed as they looked out at the moonlight.
The pair began to plan a wedding even as Kohlman prepared to deploy to Afghanistan. Before he left for war in February, they decided they would marry at Nationals Park.
For seven months Oliver held her breath, waiting for any communication from Kohlman. Making decisions about the wedding seemed fraught, she says, “because I was so afraid of something happening.”
In September, he returned to North Carolina, where the couple will stay until Kohlman gets his next assignment. “There aren’t words to describe what it’s like to see that airplane touch on the ground,” says Oliver.
On Nov. 10, a brilliant, unseasonably warm day, Oliver and Kohlman exchanged vows in a courtyard overlooking home plate at Nationals Park. Their 254 guests included several soldiers who had been injured in the war. Cocktail hour was held in the dugouts and batting cages before the reception started in the club dining room overlooking the stadium.
“If you were to tell me I was going to go through a deployment and marry someone in the Army six years ago, I would’ve said, ‘No way, you could bet a million dollars against it,’ ” says Oliver. “But he’s just always allowed me to do what I never thought I could do. He really makes me a better person.”