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Sgt. Giovanna Caligiuri displays a photo of himself and his new wife, Jean Aragon.

Sgt. Giovanna Caligiuri displays a photo of himself and his new wife, Jean Aragon. (Jim Schulz / S&S)

MANILA, Philippines — Sgt. Giovanni Caligiuri came to the Philippines to win hearts and minds.

He won a lot more — the hand of his new bride, Jean Aragon.

The two married Sunday, four months after meeting and two days before Caligiuri left for Hawaii to begin his redeployment home.

Caligiuri never meant to fall in love, he said. But there she was, and this Civil Affairs soldier couldn’t resist.

“I knew after I first met her,” he said on the eve of his wedding. “She has the perfect qualities.”

The couple met by chance four months ago. A fellow soldier was going on a date and needed a chaperone, at his date’s family’s request and the Army’s — soldiers aren’t supposed to go out alone in the Philippines.

Caligiuri reluctantly went.

Aragon was the date’s chaperone.

On their first real date together, he met her family. After a few dates, her mother had inquiries.

“She actually sat me down and asked, ‘What are your intentions for my daughter?’” Caligiuri said.

Two months into their courtship, he popped the question. Aragon didn’t believe him.

“I thought he was just joking,” Aragon said.

He convinced her the question was real and she said yes.

Next began two months of preparation — for the stunning wedding and for her visa to join him in the States.

Despite being married, she won’t be able to get a visa for months.

With the wedding behind them, Caligiuri left for Hawaii with his unit Tuesday. He’ll return to the Philippines four days later on leave for a honeymoon until Jan 1. Then he goes back to the States where he’s likely to be redeployed somewhere else soon, possibly Iraq or Afghanistan.

Aragon said she’s nervous but she understands the life of a soldier. Caligiuri is a reservist.

In his civilian life, he’s a media consultant in California, where the couple plans to eventually settle down.

Their families, on the other hand, had reservations. After getting to know Caligiuri, Aragon’s family felt better. Caligiuri’s family could tell by his excitement she was the one. Now, the families are thrilled.

At 40, they thought he might never get married. He wasn’t so sure himself.

“I’m actually very fortunate I had a chance to meet her,” he said.

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