HIALEAH, FLA. (WSVN) - Welcoming a service member home is always special, but there’s just something more poignant about keeping that return a top secret.
“The surprise is amazing. I called him this morning. He didn’t answer back and then all of a sudden I come over here, and he’s back. I can’t believe it,” said Andrew Rivera.
Army Sgt. Andres Rivera’s father and grandparents beamed with joy and gratitude to have him back home just in time to mark Veterans Day.
“I’m very happy now because my grandson’s here,” said grandmother Consuelo Rivera.
“I’m so proud of him. He left a kid and came back a man,” said grandfather Andrew Rivera.
There were more smiles earlier in the day as army Sgt. Bryant Conto arrived at Miami International Airport after nearly a year in Afghanistan.
Wife Yare Monne was there with the couple’s growing baby boy, just 3 months old when Conto headed overseas.
“It’s been a long 10 months. I’ve pretty much just been counting down every day until this moment,” said Conto.
Then it was off to surprise 7-year-old Brielle, a second grader at Ernest R. Graham Academy. She’s hard to miss with the camouflage jacket and red and blue bows.
Back at the Rivera home, three generations of Rivera men get some long overdue bonding in. His family says they’re thankful for him, his service and his safety.
“It’s one of the greatest things to finally be back home with my family,” said Sgt. Rivera. “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen them, over a year, deployed in the Middle East. I think the best thing you can have in the world is family.”
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