It was a happy homecoming for a Connecticut family on Monday when a soldier got to see them for the first time in a year.
United States Army Specialist Connor Estavillo was finally back in Connecticut on Monday after serving a year in Iraq. The five-year army veteran, surprised his young cousins, who thought they were just going out to lunch at the Texas Roadhouse in Waterbury.
"For the last nine months over there, I'd Facetime them whenever I could and they'd be emotional, crying, wishing I'm home,” Estavillo said. “Now that I finally am, you could see their faces, it’s unreal."
Estavillo was now, right next to them and was serving up plenty of smiles, tears and endless hugs.
"It’s happy because I'm just happy he survived and is still alive,” cousin Jason Piva-Fraticelli said.
"At first, I was really surprised because I was texting him yesterday, saying we should surprise my mom,” cousin Justes Cureton said. “I was trying not to cry. But, once I saw my mom cry, I started crying, because before he left we spent like a week together, have a really close bond."
Instead Justes' mom, Connor’s aunt pulled a fast one on everyone else, quickly throwing together the surprise homecoming.
Last week, they started texting, with Estavillo originally wanting to surprise the kids at school. But with Monday being President's Day, they decide to meet for lunch.
"I grew up with all them, my whole life. Our family is very close,” Estavillo said. “See my grandmother every day for the last 24 years, so finally getting to see here is great."
While the kids had no clue, it was all those hugs, especially one with grandma that made it all worth it.
"I've been waiting for that hug since I've been gone,” Estavillo said. “Finally got it, so I'm the happiest person right now."
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