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May-03-2009 12:47printcomments

Oregon Soldier Bound for Iraq Pops 'The Question'

"Will you marry me?" - Specialist Garen Hart
"I'm overwhelmed" - Fiancé, Melinda Morris

Oregon soldier, Garen Hart, of Sherwood, Ore., proposes to his fiancé, Melinda Morris, of Portland
Oregon Army National Guard soldier, Spc. Garen Hart, of Sherwood, Ore., proposes to his fiancé, Melinda Morris, of Portland, following the 41st Brigade Combat Team's mobilization ceremony at the Portland Coliseum in Portland, Oregon (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs Office)

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - While soldiers from the 41st Brigade Combat Team trained and prepared for duty in Iraq at Camp Roberts California, Specialist Garen Hart, of Sherwood, Oregon, was hatching a plan.

In between mastering soldiering skills in the training lanes with other Oregon soldiers, he collaborated with his commanders on how he would go about proposing to his fiancé, Melinda Morris, of Portland, Oregon.

While most men would choose the picturesque Oregon coast, or romantic Multnomah Falls to begin their journey to wedded bliss, Hart chose to pop the big question at the unit's mobilization ceremony at the Portland Coliseum on May 2nd.

"I conspired with my command to pull this off," said Hart with a smile on his face, following the big moment.

The plan was to have Morris come down out of the stands following the brigade's mobilization ceremony, under the guise that Hart would be receiving an award from his unit's commander.

But as a throng of military and local news photographers converged on the couple—who stood in front of Hart's entire unit—but instead of readying himself for an award, the soldier dropped to one knee.

"Will you marry me?" Hart asked a visibly shocked Morris. Members of Hart's unit and bystanders in the stands erupted in cheers and applause.

"I'm overwhelmed," Morris said, still shaking. "I thought he was the story, and I came down to take pictures of him."

Hart, who served with the 41st Brigade Combat Team in Afghanistan in 2004 as a medic, is looking forward to this deployment, despite his fast-approaching plans to become a husband.

"I got to do some really rewarding stuff in Afghanistan, so I'm looking forward to this deployment," Hart said.

The couple plans to officially tie the knot during the soldiers' 15-days of leave following their training at Camp Stewart, Georgia.

"We have quite a bit of planning to do," Hart said, as he embraced Morris.

Hart, and approximately 2,700 other Oregon soldiers will deploy to Iraq for 10 months following pre-deployment training at Camp Stewart, Georia.

Look for more coverage tonight on the mobilization ceremony for the 41st Brigade Combat Team; we have amazing photos from Q Madp of

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