Lieutenant pops question in national magazine

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Rebecca Danét
  • Air Force Office of Public Affairs National Media Outreach
A McGuire AFB lieutenant will be taking his new bride on a dream honeymoon in South Africa after their 2008 nuptials -- a trip which the couple won this week following an extreme marriage proposal in Essence Magazine's February love issue.

1st Lt. Kerry Mackey Jr., a 305th Comptroller Squadron budget officer, proposed to his longtime friend Diedra Chism of Memphis, Tenn., after beating out hundreds of other applicants for the opportunity to do so in the magazine. 

Lieutenant Mackey and five other hopeful bachelors wrote love letters of proposal to their girlfriends, which the magazine published in early February. Each man then received advance copies of the magazine and set the stage for their girlfriends to read their letters. 

After meeting at church six years ago, then college freshman Kerry Mackey waited three years for the opportunity to date Ms. Chism. 

"I patiently waited for you, holding fast to the belief that if we were meant to be, things would work out for us," the lieutenant wrote in his proposal. 

To pop the question, Lieutenant Mackey took a surprise trip from McGuire AFB, N.J., to Ms. Chism's home in Memphis right before Christmas. He presented her with the magazine, and then dropped on bended knee to tell her what was in his heart. 

"This is you," Ms. Chism said looking at the magazine's cover in confusion. 

"I think she was really shocked by the whole thing, from my being there, to the magazine and the whole proposal," Lieutenant Mackey said. 

Her answer was a resounding, "Yes," followed by emotional tears of joy. 

As all six women said yes, the magazine set up an Internet poll on its Web site and asked readers to vote for their favorite couple to win the dream honeymoon. The six couples made a guest appearance on ABC Television's Good Morning America show Valentine's Day where Essence Magazine's Editor-in-Chief, Angela Burt-Murray, was expected to announce the winning couple. 

"We had millions log on," Ms. Burt-Murray said. "I think they were really excited about all these wonderful stories and these heartfelt expressions of love." 

The magazine and South African Tourism Board, sponsor of the honeymoon trip, were so overwhelmed by the reader response and by the couples themselves, Ms. Burt-Murray said, that they decided to award the trip to all six couples. 

Lieutenant Mackey and Ms. Chism are planning their wedding for spring 2008 and will take off for two days in Cape Town, two days in Johannesburg and a two-day African safari shortly thereafter. 

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