Soldier Proposes to Girlfriend in Sign Language

A valley woman was at Sky Harbor Airport Wednesday night to surprise her boyfriend, who was returning home from Afghanistan.

But as it turns out, the surprise was on her when he proposed after getting off the plane.

The whole thing almost got scratched Tuesday night when she couldn’t get off work.  His mother called and they got it worked out.

It was a tough secret to keep — while the proposal was a surprise to her, it wasn’t a surprise to any of us.

So we had to be a little sneaky.

Getting this engagement ring to Sky Harbor Airport was no easy task.

Private First Class James Delano ordered it while he was overseas.

“He picked it our from Zales, ordered it and had it sent to her cousin who brought it to me,” said his mother, Gail Delano.

Samantha Penuelas, his soon-to-be fiancée, got to Sky Harbor later, with no clue what was about to happen.

When Delano’s plane landed, his mother went back to the gate to give him the ring.

Penuelas thought we were doing a story on soldiers returning home for Thanksgiving, but little did she know everyone here knew he was going to propose to her.

After a long embrace, the soldier popped the question.

We were told early on that Samantha is training to be a sign language interpreter.

Delano signed “will you marry me” and she signed back “yes!”

And just to make sure, he asked again.

Delano says they talked about getting married before, even set a date, but he wanted the proposal to be special.

“And so I taught myself sign will you marry me because I knew she would know what I was saying,” he said. “I just want to spend the rest of my life with her.”

They plan to marry at the end of December.  Delano says someone on the plane gave him money to take Samantha out to dinner Wednesday night.

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