Will you marry me?

Shawnn Vincent returned to Whidbey Island from Afghanistan with a rock on his mind.

Vincent, an airman stationed with VAQ-133, wasn’t concerned about war in Iraq, in his case “a rock” was an engagement ring.

When the EA-6B Prowler squadron flew in to Whidbey Island Naval Air Station Thursday morning, Vincent hugged his mother Candy Vincent, who slipped him an engagement ring. After wrapping Danielle Kittleson in his arms, Vincent dropped to one knee and held up the ring.

Kittleson screamed before accepting and throwing her arms around her sailor.

“Everyone in my family and my squadron knew I was proposing today,” Vincent said, beaming.

“Danielle’s the only one who didn’t know.”

While the proposal was common knowledge, Kittleson said she wanted the wedding date and location to be a secret.

All she was willing to disclose was the season.

“We’ll be married in the summer,” she said, gripping Vincent’s hand and still shaking with emotion.

Vincent and Kittleson weren’t the only ones kissing and hugging. All across the flight line, families reunited.

“I’m ecstatic,” Lindsey Todd said as she handed little Braidy Todd to Petty Officer 2nd Class Jeremy Todd.

“He’s changed so much and he’s so cute,” Jeremy Todd said, cuddling his 16-pound son. He’d been home for Braidy’s birth but left for the war zone when the baby was only seven days old.

Lindsey Todd said Braidy was almost ready to crawl but was waiting for Dad to get home.

“We haven’t been putting him on his stomach too much,” Lindsey laughed, wiping away tears.

Braidy seemed more interested in his father’s uniform than his face. But two items Jeremy Todd had hooked to his gear were less than uniform.

He wore Braidy’s first pair of shoes near his heart.

“I wore them to and from work every day,” Jeremy Todd said, kissing Braidy.

Brytany Todd, 3 years, didn’t greet her father. She was at Oak Harbor Christian School.

“Her dad wanted today to be a regular day for her,” Lindsey Todd said. They weren’t sure if Jeremy would go to her preschool class or wait at home.

Either way it would be a big surprise for the little girl.

“She knows Dad’s coming home but she doesn’t know it’s today,” Lindsey Todd said.

A solemn Pasquelle Marco eyed her father, Petty Officer 1st Class Jeremy Marco.

“Hey there,” her father said, gently bouncing her in his arms. The little girl had her first birthday Jan. 9 and her father read bedtime stories to Pasquelle during the entire deployment.

Kiron Marco had videotaped her husband reading before he left. She had a rotation of six stories to play for Pasquelle.

Her daughter hasn’t walked alone yet, Kiron said.

“For three months she’s been walking holding on with her fingers. She’s waiting for Daddy to see her take her first step,” Kiron said.

Babies and toddlers weren’t the only children waiting for parents. Local schools might have noticed a slight drop in attendance Thursday as kids cut class with parental approval.

Chelsea Atkinson, 9, a third grader at Oak Harbor Elementary School, was a no-show at roll call. She was skipping school to greet Petty Officer 1st Class Paul Atkinson.

She said deployment wasn’t too bad but admitted having her dad miss her first soccer game was hard. Chelsea played goalie, forward and midfield for The Magnificent Crab Queens last fall. She’s now playing basketball. Her father will make her last game and a tournament Feb. 12.

Her brother Alex, 3, was ready for dad to arrive. Alex said his immediate plans included “playing choo-choos” with his dad.

Caitlyn Torres, 6, and Michael Torres, 10, missed classes at Hillcrest Elementary School to meet Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Torres.

Michael, a fourth-grader, wasn’t concerned about making up school work.

“It’s special to see Dad come home,” he said.

More VAQ-133 homecomings happen today when crews fly the radar-jamming jets fly to NAS Whidbey. At press time, homecoming was set at 1 p.m.

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