News: 4th SBCT soldier proposes at homecoming ceremony
Story by Sgt. Kimberly Lessmeister
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Dressed in his combat uniform, Spc. Derek Pursell, an information technology specialist with 702nd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, searched the crowd for his mother, Michelle, and his girlfriend, Tanesha Parker. As he embraced Parker, his mother slipped a tiny, black box into his right cargo pocket.
Surrounded by approximately 200 other redeploying soldiers and their families, he got down on one knee and proposed to Parker during a welcome home ceremony, July 24, at Soldiers Field House on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
With tears of joy in her eyes, Parker accepted.
“All that was going through my head was ‘Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Really?’” said Parker, a Kansas City, Mo., native.
During the seventh month of his nine-month deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Pursell, a Cincinnati native, knew he was going to propose to Parker at his welcome home ceremony, he said.
The two met at Advanced Individual Training at Fort Gordon, Ga., in 2011, Pursell said.
At the time, Parker was also in the military.
Throughout the time apart, the couple went through ups and downs, said Purcell, but ultimately he decided that Parker was the one.
Distance became the greatest obstacle for Pursell and Parker.
“The first couple of months it just seemed like (the time) went by so slow and it stayed slow,” Parker said. “It was just like, when is he ever going to come back?”
Parker said toward the end of the deployment, time felt like it sped up. However, the last couple of days dragged on.
“It was definitely worth (the wait) because through it, we’ve learned a lot more about each other and we’ve become better in our relationship,” Parker said. “I’m really excited to be able to start this new chapter in my life with the love of my life.”