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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 19 March, 2019
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Romantic proposal as soldier gets down on one knee on return from Syria

A shocked girlfriend got more than she hoped for at this morning’s reunion.

GETTING TO SEE loved ones after a stint away with the Irish Defence Forces is a special reunion for army families.

But Kevin Phelan decided to make his first welcoming home party one that his girlfriend Lena Murphy will never forget.

The young soldier was among the first to disembark at Baldonnel this morning, obviously in a rush to get that first hug in.

But within seconds, he was down on one knee in front of Lena, asking for her hand in marriage.

The utterly surprised Waterford woman said yes, and just had time to put the ring on the finger before the media got wind of what was happening.

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Family members scrambled to ask each other who knew this surprise was going to happen. And Lena was paraded through the cameras, in shock, telling us it was “the last thing she expected”.

But Kevin had been planning the occasion meticulously and even had the appropriate jewellery for the occasion.

“I got one of my friends to get one on leave but I knew she wouldn’t like it so I got a new one in Jerusalem,” he told TheJournal.ie.

The pair have been going out four years and Kevin says he’ll now “take a step back and enjoy it” before planning anything major.

The joy of the young couple was matched in every corner of the aerodrome this morning as parents hugged daughters who were back from their first trip abroad with the army, fathers greeted young toddlers – ones that couldn’t walk by themselves when they left – and teammates laughed with each other at the sight of two hurleys strapped to the side of an army bag (in that case, there was a county final missed because of the delayed return).

The message from the Defence Force members was that the trip was more challenging than anticipated but that their training stood up and they weren’t out of their depth. They all said they’d go back in a heartbeat, despite the difficulties and sacrifices.

Read: Irish troops arrive home alive as Golan Heights mission is ‘de-risked’

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