On the heels of Independence Day and amidst the increased activity due to the RIMPAC exercise at Joint Base Pearl-Harbor Hickam in Honolulu, Hawaii, Kenton and Johnny Wandasan had their Civil Union ceremony performed at the Hickam Officer’s Club. According to the catering manager, this was the first same-gender “wedding” ceremony and reception that the Hickam Officer’s Club has ever hosted.
Maj. Johnny Wandasan recently completed a combat command of a CH47 Chinook company that was deployed across two Regional Commands in Afghanistan, and is now actively serving as a Senior Aviation Advisor and Assistant Brigade Operations Officer for an Infantry Training Brigade. The former Kenton Chang, now Kenton Wandasan, is an alumnus of Kamehameha Schools in Honolulu, Hawaii, and is a Respiratory Technician at Queen’s Hospital.
The July 6th date holds a special meaning to Kenton and Johnny, as does the venue; Johnny received his commissioning from the 298th Regimental Training Institute’s Officer Candidate School program at the Hickam Officer’s Club, back in August 2000.
The repeal of DADT aided tremendously in transitioning from a life of secrecy to a life of openness and acceptance in the military. Kenton and Johnny recently attended a Farewell event for the Senior Enlisted Advisor from Johnny’s previous unit and both were made to feel welcome. In fact, a Platoon Sergeant from Johnny’s unit, along with other non-commissioned officers, volunteered to assist with the DJ and music entertainment during their wedding.
There is still a long road ahead for the couple, but their status as “husbands” in a Civil Union has certainly energized their hopes and desires for more acceptance and involvement in unit functions, and Family Readiness Program (FRG) activities. For them, the repeal of DOMA is the beacon of hope that is still in sight, off in the distance. Basic privileges, such as access to base shopping and fitness facilities, and ultimately being recognized as a family member by the DoD are but a handful of the many benefits that Kenton and Johnny are both hoping and praying for through the furtherance of marriage equality laws.
Kenton and Johnny currently reside in Honolulu, Hawaii, and are together raising a year-and-ten-month old American Pitbull, nicknamed “Haas”. They often talk and dream about one day growing their family through adoption.