Reggie Salisbury still holds his wife’s hand—an act of affection repeated day in and day out for their 71 years of marriage.
The two sat side by side on Friday, fingers intertwined, as family and friends celebrated their union.
Father Marreddy Allam from St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church presented the couple with certificates from the Worldwide Marriage Encounter—a worldwide pro-marriage organization that tracks the longest marriages in each parish.
The Salisbury’s are the longest-married couple in their parish. Their names will be added to the South Carolina Congressional Record.
Reggie, 94, who suffers from dementia recently moved with his wife into The Blake at Carnes Crossroads.
Ann, 90, said she first met her husband when a relative married Reggie’s uncle.
Reggie, a World War II Veteran, fought in two major battles, including the D-Day invasion.
He had been assigned to protect a Comanche Code Talker. Only 21 Comanche men were picked by the U.S. Government to participate in the WWII Code Talker program. Thirteen of those men stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, with Allied troops on D-Day.
Reggie guarded his fellow soldier as the man communicated by radio using his secret Comanche code words—a code that was never broken.
Later Reggie along with the Code Talker, were captured and held in a Nazi prisoner of war camp for nine months.
By the time he was freed, his body weight dropped from 160 pounds to 92 pounds.
“They were about to starve to death,” Ann said.
The U.S. Government instructed Reggie and other soldiers to stay mum about the Code Talker program.
He didn’t say a word. Ann herself had no idea he was involved with the program until about 10 years after the war ended. Even then he held back from sharing those painful memories of his time as a POW.
According to Bill Salisbury, Reggie and Ann’s son, it wasn’t until 30 years after the war that Reggie told his POW story.
Bill said his father was shaken by television images of POWs from Vietnam coming home. It was then that Reggie decided to talk about those nine months.
Ann taught school in Berkeley County for 36 years. The couple has two children, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
“I’ve got a great family, very supportive, very helpful in every way,” Ann said.
She had no idea that she and Reggie had been designated as the “longest-married couple” by the Worldwide Marriage Encounter.
When it comes to love and marriage, her advice to others is simple.
“Don’t ever get too mad at each other,” Ann said. “Talk it out.”