Valdosta Daily Times

February 11, 2013

Air Force officer proposes to girlfriend in hot air balloon

Caitlin Barker
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Air Force Lieutenant Chris Piercy asked his girlfriend, Heather Toth, to marry him in a one-of-a-kind way.

Stationed in Adana, Turkey, at Incirlik airbase, Piercy planned for Toth to visit him for two-weeks, over Christmas and New Years.

When Heather arrived in Adana, the couple planned to experience a hot air balloon ride and guided tour of Cappadocia, accompanied by others from the airbase.

“I originally planned to propose during New Years Eve fireworks in Istanbul,” Piercy said. “I decided I couldn’t wait that long.”

Toth is thankful Piercy was able to propose, despite the inclement weather that morning.

“I didn’t think it would go up, there was too much fog but the balloon ended up  going up anyway,” Toth said.

As the couple floated into the sky, they reached an elevation of one vertical km (3,000 ft), hovering over the mountains of Cappadocia. Piercy popped the question and Toth accepted his unique proposal.

“It almost didn’t happen. It was a foggy Christmas morning and our hot air balloon trip was delayed for over an hour,” Piercy said. “When we finally did get the green light, I was shaking with nerves.”

As Toth reflects back on the special moment, she feels as if she should’ve known it was coming.

“He gave plenty of hints, I should’ve picked up on it.” Toth said. “Like I lost a ring and he said, ‘We will have to get you another one.’”

The two met last April, only about a month after Piercy returned home from Afghanistan. He learned about a week after they met that he would be leaving for Turkey in August.

“The summer flew by, but included some of the best moments of my life,” Piercy said.

As they enjoyed some of their last moments together before his departure, Piercy reflected back to the beginning.

“I picked her up on my motorcycle, and we went for sushi at Masatos, followed by a bike ride and some ice cream at Sonic,” Piercy said. “Our second date was a day trip to St. Simon’s. We walked the entire day, and I believe that was the day I realized I may have found the woman I wanted to marry.”

Before he left, Piercy took Toth to Mount Holly, N.C., to meet his family.

“We took my motorcycle on a ride around Blue Ridge Parkway, spent a day at Carowinds Theme Park riding rollercoasters, and went ‘rodeo rafting’ at the White Water Rafting Center in Charlotte,” Piercy said.

As the two enjoyed their eventful trip to N.C., Toth was excited to get to know Piercy’s family.

“I fell in love with his family and they fell in love with me,” Toth said.

Even though their relationship was short prior to their engagement, the two do not regret taking a chance on love.

“Long distance relationships are no joke, and I usually wouldn’t recommend them. However, my relationship with Heather has not been difficult,” Piercy said. “We talk about everything with one another. You know, trust is precious and rare in our modern world of instant gratification.”

Piercy is stationed in Turkey for 15 months and will be returning to Valdosta in November. While he is away, Toth is finishing her sophomore year at Valdosta State University, majoring in business management.

Before the couple wed, Piercy wants Toth to always remember how much she means to him.

“Heather, you’re my best friend and I love you more than you could ever know. You make me happier than I have ever been in my entire life,” Piercy said.

With no idea where his next assignment will be, Piercy appreciates Toth being by his side.

“I miss her each and every day, but I thank God for this opportunity because I also feel like this challenge is strengthening our relationship in preparation for lifelong marriage,” Piercy said.

The two plan to get married April 5, 2014, at First Baptist Church, in Piercy’s hometown of Mount Holly, N.C.