Whenever a soldier returns from combat, it’s a great story, but what happened with Alvino Sandoval and his daughter was especially heart-warming.
Five-year-old Hailey Sandoval was set to throw out the first pitch of the San Antonio Missions vs. Corpus Christi Hooks baseball game last Sunday evening. She had no idea what was about to happen to her after she threw out the first pitch.
Hailey was ready to throw the pitch to a catcher from the Missions at home plate. Her throw, as you would expect from a 5-year-old, fell well short of home plate and the catcher went out to retrieve the ball and give it to her. As the catcher proceeded to walk towards Hailey, the public address asked Hailey to look at the catcher.
To her surprise and amazement, it was her father Army Sgt. Alvino Sandoval.
Sandoval had just returned from a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan and wanted to surprise his daughter. Sandoval completed his mission as Hailey’s eyes filled with tears as she ran toward him and gave him a big hug.
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“I’m so emotional right now,” Sgt. Sandoval said as he hugged his daughter. “I’m so happy to see my daughter.”
There was some doubt from Sandoval early on that this reunion would go off without a hitch.
“I was a little nervous that she would‘ve spotted me because she has big eyes,” Sandoval said. “She doesn't’t miss a thing.”
And what was Hailey’s reaction when her father took off his mask and revealed himself to her.
“I was happy,” she said.
At a Tampa Bay Rays game in May, 9-year-old Alayna Adams was also reunited with her father after she threw out the first pitch at the game. She had no idea she was throwing to her dad, Lt. Col. Will Adams. He had just finished a year tour in Afghanistan.
With a surprise such as this, both dads could not see their families right away. To keep the illusion of their absence, they had to stay away for a day for the surprise to really work. For Adams, that was the tough aspect of the heart-warming surprise.
“That was the hardest part,” Adams said after the surprise in Tampa. “Being back home and not being able to see them.”
Watch the video of the Sandoval’s reunion below: