Veteran proposes to girlfriend on Vantage Heroes cruise

U.S. Army veteran Johnny Jarnagin of Peabody, Mass., is celebrating his engagement to longtime girlfriend Sofia Pinheiro on a free, all-expenses-paid Vantage river boat cruise through France.

The couple arrived in Paris Nov. 10 along with more than a dozen military veterans and their guests, and spent a romantic day ascending the Eiffel Tower and walking along the Seine River. It was during that walk that Jarnagin popped the question to Pinheiro and she said yes. The couple was greeted back on board the luxury river boat with a bottle of champagne and a wave of applause from fellow vets.

Jarnagin is a former U.S. Army medic who served 12 months in Afghanistan in 2009. He’s now a first-year medical student at UMASS Medical School in Worcester. Pinheiro works for State Street Bank in Boston. The couple attended Peabody High School together in the mid-2000s but did not get to know each other until Johnny left the military in 2011. They now reside in South Boston.

“The opportunity to propose to Sofia with the Eiffel Tower shining in the background was just incredible and the ability to share this moment with my fellow veterans is truly special,” said Jarnagin. “I can’t thank Vantage Travel enough for making this dream come true.” So did Sofia know that Johnny would propose on this once in a lifetime trip?

“As we walked around Paris, he was acting quite strange,” Pinheiro said with a laugh. “He kept his hand in his pocket the whole time. I guess he didn’t want to lose the ring.”

The seven-day cruise aboard the ms River Venture has become a “Love Boat” and cruise sponsor Patricia Lewis of Vantage Travel cannot be more thrilled.

“We are so excited for Johnny and Sofia,” said Lewis, founder of Vantage Travel’s Heroes Program. “This trip is a great way to honor our veterans and to create lasting memories for each of them.”

This is the second such wedding proposal on a Vantage Travel Heroes cruise. In December 2013, Boston Marathon bombing survivor James Costello proposed to his girlfriend and former nurse Krista D’Agostino during a free Vantage-sponsored cruise through France. She also said yes. A photo of the couple in front of the Ferris wheel in Lyons, France went viral.

This year’s seven-day cruise will also include stops in Vernon, Rouen, and a tour of the D-Day landing beaches in Normandy.