By Sandi Moynihan
When most girls dream about their perfect proposal, they imagine flowers, a ring and their future husband down on one knee — not a long-distance call from a boyfriend hundreds of miles away.
But for Pvt. Zoe Tunchez and Pvt. Emmanuel Aleman, who are stationed at different Army bases, a happy phone conversation seemed like the closest to a fairy-tale proposal they would get.
That is, until Aleman, his mother, Marita Maldonado, and USO San Antonio teamed up to give Tunchez the surprise of a lifetime.
When Aleman found out he and Tunchez would be flying home to San Antonio to get married in October, he told his mother that he wanted to properly propose to Tunchez before their wedding day. But he needed her help.
Pvt. Emmanuel Aleman proposes to Pvt. Zoe Tunchez at the USO San Antonio airport center.
Pvt. Emmanuel Aleman marries Pvt. Zoe Tunchez.
Pvt. Emmanuel Aleman poses with his mother Marita Maldonado.
Pvt. Zoe Tunchez and Pvt. Emmanuel Aleman cut their wedding cake.
Pvt. Zoe Tunchez and Pvt. Emmanuel Aleman smile at their wedding.
Pvt. Emmanuel Aleman kisses Pvt. Zoe Tunchez at their wedding.
“I wanted to do something very unique so that she would remember for a long time,” Aleman said. “I didn’t have too many resources at the time.”
Maldonado reached out to USO San Antonio via Facebook to see if the organization could help create a special moment for the couple.
“I was like, ‘I don’t know how this works. Can anyone give me some insight?’” Maldonado said. “And Lauren [Ayala from USO San Antonio] was like, ‘Yes!’ And that’s how we got the ball rolling.”
Within a matter of days, USO San Antonio administrative assistant Lauren Ayala organized flowers, hand-drawn signs, a professional photographer and a slew of volunteers to help create a fairy-tale proposal for Tunchez at the USO San Antonio airport center. One of the USO San Antonio volunteers even volunteered to shoot and edit video of the event.
“Everything just came together really, really nicely for such short notice,” Ayala said.
When the big moment finally arrived Oct. 10, Aleman surprised Tunchez with flowers, ‘Will you marry me, Zoe?’ signs and him in uniform, down on one knee, holding a ring tucked inside a pink rose.
“I was just amazed that they were able to do all this,” Maldonado said. “I was just moved to tears. It was amazing.”
Even though the proposal was only hours before they couple said ‘I do,’ it turned out to be a magical family moment.
“Without the USO’s help I would not have been able to do it,” Aleman said.
Aleman and Tunchez were married during an intimate ceremony in the San Antonio area on Oct. 12. They’re in the process of transferring bases to live together as newlyweds.