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Local soldier turns homecoming party into celebration for his wife

BENSCREEK, Pa. -- For many soldiers, spending holidays and anniversaries with loved ones isn't always possible. So on Saturday a local soldier who recently returned from Afghanistan made it up to his wife with a surprise no one was expecting.

"I'd like to take a moment to recognize the real heroes - our wives, families, everyone that's supporting us in all we do to get us through this war," said SSG Benjamin Smith. 

Saturday was planned as a welcome home party for Smith but he turned the tables and made it into an even bigger celebration as he got down on one knee and re-proposed to his wife. 

"I know how lucky I am that you agreed to be my wife and I will never take that for granted," Smith told his wife. "But if I'm not pushing my luck too much, I have to ask you, will you marry me again today, here in front of everyone?" 

Smith and his wife Melissa have been married for six years, but because of deployments and training, they've never spent an anniversary together. So while Melissa Smith was planning his homecoming, Ben Smith, with the help of a good friend, was scheming a surprise of his own. 

"It was really, you know, your wife is doing a lot while you're gone, you better get her a real nice present in Afghanistan. I joked around and told him, 'get her a nice diamond ring,'" said Brittany Croyle. "From there it just took off and we decided to plan a vow renewal so they'd have a new day to celebrate."

Melissa Smith was quickly whisked away and gussied up for a ceremony that was created from ideas she's been stockpiling on the website Pinterest for months. 

And then, in front of friends and family, the two said their "I Dos" again. 

"I just never expected anything like this ... Ever," said Melissa Smith. "I'm happy though. I really lucked out."

It was an elaborate plan that was kept secret and one that went off without a hitch.

"Me tearing up right up at the beginning kind of made it hard for me," said Benjamin Smith. "But it was well worth it and she deserves it."

The Johnstown Area Heritage Association will be lighting the stone bridge with red, white and blue Saturday night in honor of the Smith's sacrifices and service.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times