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National Guard sergeant surprises girlfriend big-time

Staff Sgt. Fred Herzfeldt right proposes his girlfriend JoAn Vargas Illinois Army National Guard Maintenance Center Saturday Feb. 4 2012

Staff Sgt. Fred Herzfeldt, right, proposes to his girlfriend, JoAn Vargas, at the Illinois Army National Guard Maintenance Center Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, in North Riverside. The proposal was disguised as an awards ceremony, where Vargas was to present Herzfeldt with the certificate, which instead read, "Will You Marry Me?"

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Updated: March 6, 2012 8:22AM

Fred Herzfeldt proposed with no words. With just a sign, he knelt down on his right knee with a diamond ring in his hand.

Within seconds, JoAn Vargas’ expression changed from shock to happiness. A hug and a kiss later and the two were engaged.

“I’m so embarrassed. I’m so embarrassed. I’m so embarrassed,” Vargas said bashfully to the uniformed National Guard staff sergeant in a packed North Riverside drill room Saturday afternoon.

The Herzfeldt family diamond placed on her ring finger, Vargas finally noticed her closest friends and family were there, coming toward her.

It was Herzfeldt’s idea, but not the type of marriage proposal his girlfriend of two years expected. She actually doesn’t like attention very much.

“It’s the only thing us guys have, how we propose,” Herzfeldt said. “The rest of the wedding is for the women. The flowers, the tablecloths, everything down to everything is their decision. This is all we got,” he joked while awaiting Vargas’ arrival.

The plan: Get Vargas into an armory drill room full of fellow soldiers to present her boyfriend with an award, with family and friends hiding out on the second floor.

Instead, Chief Warrant Officer Robert Stratton coyly handed Vargas the certificate which read, “Will you marry me?”

There was no long, drawn out speech. Just the question, immediate acceptance and shrieks of applause.

“I hardly even read it [the certificate],” Vargas said. “I mean, I did see the heart and thought, this isn’t some kind of an award!”

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