‘Welcome Home, Daddy! Welcome Home on Behalf of the Exchange’

General Manager Mikel Hunter builds anticipation for little Annabelle Acosta as to what is inside the big box she is about to open.


Exchange associates at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., ensured SSgt. Hector Acosta got a special homecoming after his deployment to the United Arab Emirates.

During ceremonies in the main store, his daughter, Annabelle, 5, opened a 6-foot-tall box wrapped as a present… and found her father inside. Acosta returned April 25 after being deployed for six months.

Acosta walked out of the box and lifted his daughter into his arms, kissed his wife, Hayley, and their son, Thanes, 2.

SSgt. Hector Acosta stands in the box that his daughter would soon open to find that her daddy had returned from deployment earlier than expected.

SSgt. Hector Acosta stands in the box that his daughter would soon open to find that her daddy had returned from deployment earlier than expected.

“Welcome home, Daddy!” said General Manager Mikel Hunter, as associates and customers began applauding. “Welcome home on behalf of the Exchange. The Exchange is much more than about shopping. It’s family serving family.”

‘Loyal Exchange customers’

The surprise was captured on Facebook Live.

“The Acostas are loyal Exchange customers who attend every event, where associates know them by name,” Hunter said. “They said they could not picture a better homecoming surprise than one at their Exchange.”

In front of a Disneyland poster, the homecoming started with associates Ashley Baldridge dressed as Princess Tiana and Maxine Roseboro dressed as Moana—two characters from Disney’s films, “The Princess and the Frog” and “Moana”—escorting the family to the boxes.

Then, they helped Annabelle unwrap three presents. The first contained a laptop, on which her father said in a video that he would be home soon. What she didn’t know was her father had just recorded the video in Hunter’s office just five minutes before the event.

“I’m almost home,” Acosta said, in the video. “Five days left. Annabelle, we’re almost there. You’ll get to see me soon.”

‘We cannot thank you enough’

A second package was full of blue, red and white balloons.

Then, the daughter got help from her family and associates to tear the paper off the big box and open it—to find her father smiling broadly. He came out of the box, picked up his daughter and held her tightly, kissed his wife, and then picked up their son.

“It was such an amazing event, I can’t believe how smoothly it went,” Hayley Acosta said. “We cannot thank you and the whole team enough for this amazing experience. You all went above and beyond for our family, and we will always be so grateful for the memories you helped us create.”


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  1. Susana Cruzado on May 2, 2019 at 11:53 am

    This AFB has the right idea! GM Hunter and his staff did something so soulful that it will never be forgotten by the Acosta family and by all that experienced this event and by most that read this wonderful piece.
    All exchanges should genuinely be involved in their customers Lives.

    • Steve Smith on May 2, 2019 at 12:19 pm


      Thanks for writing to your Exchange Post!

      Let’s keep the conversation going! Who else out there has thoughts to share about what Davis-Monthan’s Exchange did for this military family?

      Type your thoughts in the Comment box and hit Enter.

      C’mon. We want to read them!

      Steve Smith
      Editor, The Exchange Post

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