VIDEO: Local airman surprises fiance - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

VIDEO: Local airman surprises fiance

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Airman Nick Riehle traveled nearly 30 hours to surprise his fiance Airman Nick Riehle traveled nearly 30 hours to surprise his fiance
Airman Nick Riehle reunites with fiance Rachel Shelton Airman Nick Riehle reunites with fiance Rachel Shelton

CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - It's a moment nearly a year in the making.

"I'm kind of anxious," said Airman Nick Riehle, standing outside Northgate Mall in Hixson.

Riehle returned home to Chattanooga from South Korea Friday afternoon to surprise his fiance, Rachel Shelton.

Rachel expected him home over the weekend. Riehle decided to show up early to surprise her at work.

"Do you think she has any idea that you're about to walk in," our crew asked.

 "No, she has no idea," he smiled, looking down at the dozen red roses he had in tow.

The couple met at JCPenny as co-workers.

It seemed like the perfect place for them to be reunited.

"Nick," screamed Rachel as she threw herself into his arms.

"I love you," she added, with her face buried in his shoulder.

The store, filled with family and friends, erupted with applause.

Friends took pictures, documenting every moment.

Airman Riehle's parents, who picked him up from the airport, looked on with pride.

"You don't realize the soldier's family, moms and dads see them off and they are out doing what they have to do," said Tina Riehle, "but you also have to think about the family that was here wondering about them and praying for them."

"When you look at your son and he's out there doing what you did, protecting our country, it just give you that pride," added Rick Riehle.

The Riehle's prayers have been answered. Their son is home safe.

He has returned just in time for his big day.

"I think he did pretty good," said Rachel, showing her engagement ring to the crowd.

"We're ready for it, for the wedding next week," beamed Rachel's mom, Chattanooga Police Sgt. Rebecca Shelton. "I think he'll make a good son-in-law."

The couple will get married next week.

Airman Riehle will have to return to South Korea days later, but for now his only mission is to spend time with his bride.

"It's such a relief, it's a very good relief," he told Channel 3, "I'm trying not to cry."

"It's definitely worth all of it when you see him again and get that first kiss," said Rachel, smiling, "it's like falling in love all over again."

Airman Riehle and Rachel will have a honeymoon.

They're headed to Myrtle Beach after the ceremony next week.

After that, the groom will head back to South Korea to complete his mission. He'll be there for eight weeks before coming home for good.

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