Happy homecoming: Sailor pops the question as HMCS St. John’s returns to Halifax
Published Monday, July 17, 2017 11:08AM ADT
Last Updated Monday, July 17, 2017 7:32PM ADT
It was an especially happy homecoming for one sailor as HMCS St. John’s returned to Halifax following a six-month mission overseas.
Sub-Lt. Tristan Lapointe was the lucky winner of the traditional on-board lottery, giving him the chance to exit the ship first, and snag the first welcome-home kiss after the navy frigate docked in Halifax Monday morning.
But Lapointe had a bigger plan in mind. After kissing his girlfriend of seven years, he took advantage of the spotlight, and proposed on bended knee.
“I love her, she means the world to me,” Lapointe said of Gabrielle Lambert. “I thought I would make a big event…out of this, and (she deserves) it.”
A shocked Lambert said ‘Yes!’ to cheers and applause from the crowd. She said she never expected the proposal, but was thrilled with the surprise.
“Wow … I’m really happy,” she told reporters before flashing her new diamond ring.
It was an emotional reunion for many of the 239 crew members aboard HMCS St. John’s. The vessel was deployed as a NATO ship and spent time in the Black Sea, along the Syrian coast, and up through the northern Atlantic Ocean with Operation Reassurance.
During its time at sea, the ship took part in four large-scale exercises. It visited 16 ports in 10 countries, travelling more than 37,000 nautical miles during the deployment.
Capt. Sheldon Gillis said the six-month mission was a tough one, but the crew persevered.
“I can't tell you how proud I am of each and every one of them that are here today. They just performed marvelously,” said Gillis.
For Petty Officer Second Class Gordon Rittwage, it was the first time he had to leave his young daughter and son at home while on tour. He spent the deployment emailing and calling whenever possible. He and his daughter Susannah even had a special ritual as the homecoming drew closer.
“We’ve been counting it down with peanut butter cups over the last 10 days,” Rittwage laughed.
HMCS Charlottetown will deploy in August, to continue the NATO mission.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Emily Baron-Cadloff and The Canadian Press