Holidays for Heroes and a First Sergeant's Surprise
By Tech Sgt Lynette Olivares, 133rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 15, 2014
Bloomington, Minn. -- The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn recently became a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon company, which proclaims the company's dedication to past and present service members and their families. To celebrate this, they held the first annual Holiday for Heroes event at the mall the morning of Dec. 14.
The event shut down the park for a few hours on Sunday to allow any veteran and their family to come and enjoy all the rides for free, as well as some food and giveaways. This event was enjoyed by more than three thousand, but will be most unforgettable for the family and friends of First Sergeant Robert Renning of the 133rd Airlift Wing in St. Paul, Minn.
The Minnesota National Guard partnered with the Mall of America, arrangements were made for this 133rd Airlift Wing Outstanding First Sergeant of 2014 to be given a chance to show his longtime girlfriend his dedication and love to her ... by giving her a surprise proposal in front of thousands of people.
Close to the closing of the event, a short ceremony was held in the middle of the Mall's Nickelodeon's Universe. Along with passersby, veterans and their families witnessed a very special moment for this couple.
The cover story was the First Sergeant was receiving accolades from the Mall of America for the lifesaving efforts that made him famous last summer. He saved a man from his Chevy Trailblazer that caught on fire on the side of the highway. His girlfriend Asea was by his side during the event, as well as many award presentations thereafter. Again, she was in tow during Sunday's event, oblivious that this award presentation was going to be focused entirely on her.
Jill Renslow, Senior Vice President of Business Development and Marketing, and Rich Hoge, Vice President of Operations, spoke to the crowd. Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard took the podium. He thanked them for their service, and made a point to emphasize the importance of family time and serving.
Then 1st Sgt Renning was able to take the microphone.
As part of the cover story, Command Chief Master Sgt. of the 133rd Airlift Wing Chief Master Sgt. Paul Kessler told a short story about the importance of the diamond on the rank of the first sergeant, emphasizing how they take care of people. After this, 1st Sgt Renning presented his girlfriend with his coin in appreciation for all of her support.
This is where the surprise starts for Asea. After this presentation, Nash tells Renning he happened to have "another diamond for him". Renning, dressed in his blues uniform, bends to one knee in front of their family and friends in the audience, entire crowd in attendance, and in the largest mall in all of America, and confesses his love for Asea and asks the highly anticipated question, "Will You Marry Me?"
To everyone's delight, she said 'yes'.