NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Marine from Staten Island surprised several members of his family for Christmas, and each of the heartwarming homecomings were caught on camera.
It was supposed to be Private Andrew Maldonado’s first Christmas away from his family. When he found out he’d be able to fly home from training in North Carolina, he kept it a secret.
Andrew, 18, started off by surprising his father at work one week before Christmas.
“I put my head up and saw him enter,” dad Wilson said. “I hug my kid and cry.”
He didn’t stop after his dad, next heading to his little sister’s school.
“I didn’t know what we were gonna do if he didn’t come,” sister Brianna said.
“When she cried on me that hurt, because I knew me not being home was hurting her a lot,” Andrew said.
Then, with half the family’s help, Andrew got his mom and brother to the Staten Island mall.
“You get that feeling something’s missing,” brother Jean said. “You know what it is, but can’t do much about it.”
“When I saw my son behind me I wanted to scram,” mom Jenny said. “I feel so happy.”
Before Christmas, the family had no way of knowing when they would all be together next. Andrew expects to be stationed overseas in February, and it was looking like they’d have to go at least a full year without seeing each other.
“I’d get pictures from them and letters and I’d open them and be like ‘wow, I could’ve been there with them celebrating’,” Andrew said. “I love my family a lot and I wish I could be here forever but I can’t, I have duties to fulfill.”
The family got to spend their Christmas together before Andrew flies back in a few days.
“Every minute I have, every hour I have I have to spend with him,” Wilson said.
The family vowed to take enough videos and pictures to make their Marine feel like he’s home, until the next time he actually is.