Son Opens Box from Deployed Dad for Birthday, But Real Surprise Was Hiding Around Corner


There are few things sweeter than videos of families being reunited after a long deployment.

As Americans, we are truly indebted to the brave men and women of the armed forces who serve our country and spend many months away from their loved ones.

The joy in the faces of children reuniting with parents warms my heart and brings tears to my eyes. I can’t even imagine going months as a child without seeing one of your parents.

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Ronin, like many 8-year-olds with military parents, has a hard time every time his dad is deployed. But his hero makes sure to send him a package every month that he is gone.

Senior Master Sgt. Mark Coffelt was on his third deployment in four years, and Ronin was worried his father would not make it home in time for his birthday.

“Ronin asked me all of the time if his dad was coming home in time,” his mom Aleecia Coffelt said in a post on Love What Matters. “I would tell him, ‘Your dad will not miss your birthday no matter what!'”

But Ronin was still concerned that they wouldn’t let his daddy leave. As his ninth birthday was quickly approaching, Mark and Aleecia knew that they wanted to surprise Ronin with his dad’s homecoming.

A box was shipped from Qatar and scheduled to arrive on the same day Mark did, and the Senior Master Sgt. hid in the basement when Ronin went off to school.

When he was later picked up, Aleecia told Ronin that a package had arrived from Qatar and she filmed him while he opened it.

The first box contained another box with a note attached. The letter broke the news that Mark would, in fact, not make it home for Ronin’s birthday and the little boy began to cry. He buried his head in the letter, clearly heartbroken that his dad was not coming home soon.

His mom had to remind him that he still hadn’t opened his present and with his little head hanging low, Ronin went back to unwrapping another box. And then another box, asking, “Why is there so much boxes?”

Inside the last box was a note that said one word: “Surprise.”

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And his dad stepped out from his hiding place around the corner. Ronin froze, in shock for a split second, before throwing all the boxes and racing to hug his dad.

The family was whole once again, sharing in the special moment of being reunited with tears in their eyes.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith