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Airman 1st Class Elaine Page, 21, left, and Airman 1st Class Trent Page, 21, are navigating through the challenges of being a young married couple overseas at Misawa Air Base, Japan. They married in August, in part to avoid being separated by an assignment change. Elaine is a surgical technician with the 35th Medical Operations Squadron, and Trent is a voice network systems specialist with the 35th Communications Squadron.

Airman 1st Class Elaine Page, 21, left, and Airman 1st Class Trent Page, 21, are navigating through the challenges of being a young married couple overseas at Misawa Air Base, Japan. They married in August, in part to avoid being separated by an assignment change. Elaine is a surgical technician with the 35th Medical Operations Squadron, and Trent is a voice network systems specialist with the 35th Communications Squadron. (Jennifer H. Svan / S&S)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — It was a leap of faith.

Guy meets girl. They fall in love. Girl faces impending permanent-change-of-station move.

Less than three months later, they marry.

Co-workers and friends tried to talk them out of it, told them they were rushing things. But for Elaine and Trent Page, both 21 and airmen first class at Misawa, time was not on their side.

Elaine, from Fort Campbell, Ky., was due to PCS this year. Declining orders as a young airman would be career suicide, she was told.

“I knew if we didn’t get married, I would probably never see him again,” she said. “It was a leap of faith.”

The Pages found that being overseas added to the stress of getting married.

They had to wait for a birth certificate — Elaine had lost hers — to arrive in the mail. Paperwork had to be submitted to the base legal office and local city hall to get their required Japanese marriage certificate.

Then there was being apart from their families. Elaine wished her mother was closer so she could talk to her more as she weighed her future.

“My family was really disappointed that we did the whole thing without them,” Elaine said.

They married in the base legal office on Aug. 1. On Aug. 6 — before the Pages’ marital status was updated in the Air Force system — Elaine got orders to report in November to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

It was only through the intervention of Elaine’s superintendent, a senior master sergeant, that the Pages were able to get joint spouse status in time and receive a Date Eligible for Return From Overseas extension, the couple said. They are to be reassigned in April 2009; where remains unknown.

After two weeks living in the dorms, the Pages moved into a base tower apartment and are settling into young married life.

“I never thought I’d be married this young, living overseas and away from family,” Elaine said.

Being newlyweds overseas is tough, she said. As single airmen, they went on off-base excursions in a subsidized Air Force program for single airmen E-4 and below.

As a young married couple, it’s hard to plan affordable dates with her husband, outside of going to the movie theater and trips to the mall, Elaine said.

The Pages are seeking marriage enrichment counseling from the base chapel. So far, it’s been helping, Trent said.

For military couples who take a leap of faith, Lt. Col. Steven J. Nicolai, the 35th Fighter Wing chaplain at Misawa, said he’s known the outcome to go both ways — “some divorcing within a year, some making a go of it.”

“My basic advice would be to put marriage on hold and to get some counseling to help them determine what is best for them,” he said in a written response.

The Pages are now planning a church wedding in December in Trent’s hometown of Austin, Texas.

“I know she’s the right one,” he said of his bride. “She puts up with my B.S., and there’s not a lot of girls that would do that for you.”

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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