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.
“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 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.”