Airman Flies High After Surprise Proposal

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24, 2008 - Simply communicating while deployed to Iraq can be challenging for servicemembers, but one airman discovered that trying to plan a surprise marriage proposal was nearly impossible.

But help from several sources led to Air Force Senior Airman Robert Blackburn popping the question to his girlfriend, D'Ann Campbell, Jan. 18.

"It was really hard for me to even get on the Internet over there," said Blackburn, 22, who recently returned to his duty station at Hill Air Force Base, in Utah.

But Blackburn's moving request and a friend's testimony submitted to "Dallas is Love," a Texas-based organization that provides servicemembers with Army and Air Force Exchange Service gift cards, earned the airman the opportunity to relax and let others make the arrangements for him.

Robbins Bros. jewelers, which helped coordinate a soldier's surprise proposal in December, presented Blackburn with a gift certificate toward the purchase of engagement and wedding rings for Campbell. Company officials also coordinated details of the proposal.

Blackburn wanted to propose to Campbell at the Adolphus Hotel in downtown Dallas and follow it with a nice dinner.

Getting Campbell, a senior at Dallas Baptist University, on the scene was no problem. She thought she was attending a party at the hotel with a friend. Instead of going to a party, however, she was met in the lobby by former Dallas Cowboys tight end Billy Jo DuPree, who escorted her to where Blackburn was waiting.

"Billy Jo heard that Robert was a huge Dallas Cowboys fan and couldn't resist becoming his wingman," said Tanya Stafford, general manager for Robbins Bros.' Dallas location.

"I was thankful that Robbins Bros. was there to help me with the ring selection and with the proposal," Blackburn, originally of Rowlett, Texas, said. "It's hard to say in words how much I appreciate everyone's help in making this happen for me and D'Ann."

Robbins Bros., which bills itself as the "world's biggest engagement ring store," was only too happy to help.

"We are in the business of love, and so it is always special when we can make a dream proposal come true," Stafford said. "In addition, we take this opportunity to thank Robert and all the thousands of military men and women serving out country and recognize the sacrifices they are making on our behalf."

Dallas is Love not only introduced Blackburn and Robbins Bros., but also picked up the tab for dinner. The group is a supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad.

"(Robbins Bros.) did the majority of the arranging," said Linda Foster, president of Dallas is Love. "All we did is kind of help pick out who the winner was going to be, and we're ... going to pay for the meal and whatever expenses they might have (associated with the evening)."

Because of Blackburn's overseas assignments, he and his fiancee have seen each other for only a total of one month of their three-year relationship. They hope to marry before Blackburn's scheduled return to Iraq in January 2009.

*Related Sites:*
Dallas is Love  [ ]
Airman Flies High After Surprise Proposal [ ]