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HMCS Toronto returns to Halifax bearing an ‘overseas surprise’ to special loved one

Crew of HMCS Toronto return after 6-month deployment
A sailor on HMCS Toronto surprised his partner with a proposal she wasn't expecting in front of a crowd that erupted in cheer.

Chances are if the military runs in your family and you’re a maritimer; you’ve spent some time on the dock of CFB Halifax either bidding farewell to your loved one as they head off on a deployment, or welcoming them back with open arms upon their return.

“Oh my gosh, it’s just such a celebratory mood here. I think there’s just so much excitement you can really feel, especially with the little ones,” Janna McFatridge said as she waited for her husband.

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“They’re so excited to see their moms and dads after six-months. Just seeing that ship pulling in, it’s just the best feeling!” she added.

READ MORE: New military helicopters join HMCS Toronto as it departs on six-month tour

HMCS Toronto has finally returned to her home port in Halifax on Sunday after being deployed overseas to the Mediterranean for six-months serving in Operation REASSURANCE.

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The crew left in much different weather and have served in the Adriatic, Black and Mediterranean Sea.

“We sailed on the 19th of January and came back today. We visited nine countries, we’ve engaged with over 13 nations to complete Operation REASSURANCE. The mission was to reassure our allies of Canada’s commitment of safety and security in Eastern Europe,” said Captain Martin Fluet, the ship’s Commanding Officer.

READ MORE: Oil leak results in return of HMCS Halifax to dockyard

While the crew has been steadily working on its mission overseas, those they left behind were beaming with pride as her Majesty’s Canadian Ship returned to her home port.

With glowing smiles lining the dock, all eyes were on Leading Seaman Nathan Durette as he won the traditional onboard draw where he got to disembark first and embrace his partner.

After six-months overseas, Leading Seaman Nathan Durette embraces his partner Alexandra Levesque as he disembarks HMCS Toronto.
After six-months overseas, Leading Seaman Nathan Durette embraces his partner Alexandra Levesque as he disembarks HMCS Toronto. Alexa MacLean/Global Halifax

Little did his girlfriend Alexandra Levesque know, Durette had selected an “overseas surprise” to bring with him back home.

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“I told her probably be about year after I get back, we’ll see, we’ll go out, select some rings, maybe get a ring sized but I wanted to surprise her now,” a beaming Durette said.

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After giving Levesque a kiss, Durette got down on one knee to ask her hand in marriage.

Without hesitating but clearly in shock, Levesque wrapped up her partner.

“I almost passed out. I don’t even know what to say,” she said.

This was the couples first major deployment and despite the distance, Levesque said it was well worth it when they got to be reunited after Durette’s journey at sea.

“Yes, it’s hard but at the same time once he’s home everything’s worth it. Just stick to it, stay strong, communicate, love, just encourage yourself,” Levesque said.