NEWARK, N.J. (CBS 2) – It was a special Christmas for a family from Newark. They haven’t seen their uncle in over a decade, but he came home in time for presents and a holiday wedding, Derricke Dennis reports.
“Between Alaska, Germany, California, two tours of Iraq, it feels good,” said Army Staff Sergeant Anthony Oliveira.
It’s good to be home, finally, with family, after 11 years away. Those two tours of duty in Iraq were followed by a recent a six month deployment to South Korea. His only time off was attending his dad’s funeral, alone, two years ago in Portugal.
“But as far as being with family, no, it’s the first time,” he said.
Carla Rebelo said what he didn’t miss was their wedding. The couple met online earlier this year, chatting and getting to know each other.
Their first time face to face was two weeks ago at Oliveira’s homecoming, and their “I do’s” came two days later.
“He missed birthdays, Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, Thanksgiving, everything,” she said. “No words to explain, it’s just a wonderful Christmas.”
It didn’t take long for the kids to open their gifts, just the wrapping paper left, but the real gift is having Uncle Tony home for Christmas.
“I want him to remember this Christmas and this New Years’ forever, that was the point, the whole point,” Rebelo said.
The family was making up for lost time, preparing a huge holiday meal with all the trimmings and a place for everyone at the table.
“It’s beyond Christmas. I mean to me, it’s a dream come true, because in 11 years, you haven’t really had a Christmas,” Oliveira said.
The holiday homecoming was one the newlyweds would not forget.
Oliveira’s time home will be short-lived. He’s heading back to South Korea in January for another six months, so he was savoring every moment this Christmas.