30 years in the making, WWII vet finally weds his long-time love

Nadine Kalinauskas
Good NewsMay 8, 2013

Better late than never.

After a 30-year engagement, Jack Wright, 88, and Shirlene King, 57, have finally made it official.

The long-time sweethearts wed on Tuesday before family, friends and doctors — in the hallway of the oncology radiation department at the West Los Angeles veterans hospital.

Wright, one of only 11 living American survivors of World War II's Battle of Guadalcanal, is currently receiving chemotherapy for head and neck cancer at the hospital.

"I have to undergo several treatments. She's been by my side every step of the way," the former Marine said of his new wife.

The couple is the first to wed at the hospital.

After the war, Wright, known as "Captain Jack" to locals, became a popular figure in the seaside community of Marina del Rey. He lived on his boat, often serenading his neighbours with his accordion.

The couple first met in 1983.

"We were at a hot tub party and I was the only one wearing a bathing suit," King told NBC Los Angeles. "He swam over to me and said, 'Can I kiss you?' I said no. He swam away, but he never stopped asking."

At their touching ceremony, Wright showed his unwavering enthusiasm for his bride. Instead of "I do," the veteran answered, "You bet your sweet life."