Local News

Bragg soldier proposes hours before deploying to Afghanistan

Posted September 25, 2011

— About 200 soldiers with the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade stationed at Fort Bragg deployed to Afghanistan Sunday, and 1st Lt. Alex Sharkey decided to make sure his girlfriend knew he planned to come home to her.

"One day I knew that there was no doubt in my mind she was the one," he said. "I got her and I made sure I told her that before I left."

Just 24 hours before departing from Simmons Army Airfield for a yearlong tour overseas, Sharkey asked Jacquelyn Toutkoushian to be his wife.

"He turned me around and he was down on his one knee and he asked me to marry him," Toutkoushian said. "I hugged him first. I jumped on him and hugged him and then I said, 'Yes, of course.'"

Sharkey wasn't the only soldier leaving new family behind. Spc. Craig Cottrell Jr. said goodbye to his 2-month-old son. 

"It's hard, but I know I'm going to come back. I'm just ready to go and get it over with," Cottrell said. 

Soldier proposes before deployment Families send off Bragg soldiers headed to Afghanistan

The group is headed to Kabul, a combat-prone area, where they will fly attack and medevac helicopters and provide aerial security.

Cottrell's father, Craig Cottrell Sr., said he's proud to see his son go.

"To see him join the military and go serve his country and go off to war, I'm very proud," he said.

For new bride-to-be Toutkoushian, the goodbye is bittersweet.

"I'm sad to see him go. I am. He's my best friend," she said.

More than 2,500 soldiers from Sharkey and Cottrell's brigade will eventually deploy to Afghanistan as well.


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  • raleighlynn Sep 26, 2011

    Congratulations! Several years ago a young soldier named Derek Sgrulloni came back from Iraq. He was met at Fort Bragg by my niece, Ashleigh, who drove all the way down from Boston to greet him. Derek saw Ashleigh, and immediately got down on one knee and proposed, right there in the middle of the chaos of returning military and their families. I was honored to officiate at Derek and Ashleigh's wedding, and we are so excited about the imminent birth of their first child, Gianna Joy, due in November. Fayetteville papers covered the proposal as front page news. I'm a Marine mom (Semper Fi Corporal Joshua Pruner, ATC, Camp Pendleton, CA) and an Army mom to PFC Joel Pruner who served during 9/11. Love all our military!

  • superman Sep 26, 2011

    When will Americans realize that we cannot change the world and shape it like we want it? Our soldiers go to other countries and fight their battles and then the country has little of no regard or appreciation of what we have done. We need to mind our own business and take care of our needs and problems in this country. I apprecaite what they do but they are not there fighting for our GREAT AMERICA.

  • fayelcox Sep 26, 2011

    Congratulations,I pray all of our men and women that are away , and fighting for our GREAT AMERICA will return home safely,soon, sooner then we expect. Will all of you pray with me?

  • Wake1 Sep 26, 2011

    I second what swtpea44 said!!!!

  • sssh.. whisper Sep 26, 2011

    Be safe Soldiers. Prayers that your mission is met and you all come home saafely.

  • nonPC Sep 26, 2011

    wow, becuase in the midst of all the ugly there is still somthing to celebrate. Im sorry you are such a cynic you can not appreciate it.

  • The one and only Original WILLOW Sep 26, 2011

    ? okay, this happens everyday around america so whats the big deal now