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Airman proposes to girlfriend at local restaurant

Lewis worked at Glenn's when he was in high school, and the two often frequent the location when he is in town.

Lewis worked at Glenn's when he was in high school, and the two often frequent the location when he is in town.

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Thirty-year-old Chad Lewis, a technical sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, recently proposed to his girlfriend Katie Ward at Glenn's Bar-B-Que. They plan to wed in September in north Georgia. Photos Courtesy of Shelby Boehm Photography and Kelley Bruce Photography

CONYERS -- It was the surprise of a lifetime for 24-year-old Katie Ward.

On Thursday, she was planning to meet her boyfriend's mother and sister for dinner at Glenn's Bar-B-Que to discuss the sister's upcoming wedding. She had talked to her boyfriend Chad Lewis, 30, earlier that day on FaceTime, as she has done many other days for the past few months, thinking he was about to go to work in Southeast Asia, where he was stationed in the U.S. Air Force as a technical sergeant.

Little did Ward know when she walked into Glenn's that she would be bombarded with roses and room full of people staring at her, a note that said "turn around" and then see her boyfriend standing before her.

"I was so shocked. I was dumbfounded," said Ward, who graduated from Rockdale County High School in 2007.

She said they had been ring shopping before he was deployed in January, but she thought he wasn't going to be home for a couple more weeks and didn't know when he would propose -- even when she saw the crowd gathered around her, she had no idea her boyfriend would soon appear.

"I had no idea. That hadn't even crossed my mind," she said. "I thought maybe everybody was feeling sad for me because I'm lonely all the time and maybe they were having a dinner for me."

In reality, Lewis had been planning the surprise before he left in January. He had asked her parents' permission, and they planned that he would tell her he was returning to the states later than he actually would get back from overseas.

Lewis, a 2001 graduate of RCHS, stuck with the plan, but it became harder when he returned two days before he was planning to propose. He had to set up a flag similar to one at his base in Asia in his parents' basement to sit in front of when he talked to her on FaceTime through his iPad, so she wouldn't suspect that he wasn't still overseas.

He had the idea to pop the question at Glenn's, where he worked in high school and where they frequently went after they started dating more than a year ago.

"I figured it would be the last place she'd expect it would happen," said Lewis, who said he's known Ward since she was 5, since she was best friends with his sister. "It made sense."

In the end, Ward said "Yes, yes, yes!" The couple plans to marry in September in North Georgia.