Wedding on a destroyer: a Turner Joyous occasion

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Nearly four years ago, Bill “Travis” Poplin and Jeri Schueler went on their first date aboard the USS Turner Joy‘s haunted ship at Halloween.  

Last weekend, they returned there to exchange vows.

About 135 of their friends and family crowded the stern of the ship last Saturday in a Jimmy Buffet-themed wedding, complete with Hawaiian leis. It was entirely appropriate for the Port Orchard couple — Poplin, a retired tin can sailor and Schueler the office manager at Hillside Elementary on Joint Base Lewis McCord. They both love the museum ship and encouraged their guests to tour it as part of the festivities.

“It was excellent,” Poplin said of the wedding, adding that the couple encouraged guests to donate to its foundation in lieu of gifts.

Schueler called it “perfect,” with hot temperatures .

The bride and groom.
The bride and groom.

“It looks like we were in Hawaii, maybe even on the Missouri,” she said.

Some friends helped ferry people across Sinclair Inlet for a reception at Port Orchard Yacht Club following the ceremony.

Their first date aboard the ship’s haunted environs nearly four years ago was followed by dinner at Anthony’s.

“I figured I’d scare her to death and so she wouldn’t eat as much,” Poplin joked of his plan.

He proposed to his bride-to-be at Christmas this past year, getting down on one knee in front of her family. After she said yes, it was time to start planning for the big day.

His first thought was Vegas. She liked the idea of doing something more family inclusive. Then, it hit her: Poplin, having retired from the Navy, was a big fan of ships, so why not reach out to the place where they had their first date? She recalled seeing a military retirement ceremony on the Turner Joy and so she called and asked: “Do you guys do weddings?”

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The ship was happy to oblige.

Both felt the ship was a beautiful setting, though some of the attendees gave the couple some gentle ribbing on one aspect.

“It wasn’t the first marriage for either one of us,” Poplin said. “And people would say to us ‘you got married on a destroyer.’”

Special thanks to Poplin and Schueler for providing the photos.

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