SAN BRUNO (KPIX) — Christmas arrived early for two Bay Area boys on Saturday when their dad cut his Navy deployment short to come home for the holidays.
Nine months ago, 3rd Class Petty Officer Roberto Tapiador was deployed to Djibouti, a country bordered by Ethiopia and Somalia in the horn of Africa.
For 8-year-old Giancarlo & 4-year-old Jonah, that meant nine long months without their dad, leaving wife AnnaLyn Alfanso as a single parent.
“It was kinda difficult because this year, the hardest part was my dad passed away,” said Alfanso. “He wasn’t there for me to be besides me to support me, give me that emotional support.”
But then, all they wanted for Christmas walked right through the restaurant where they were eating lunch and delivered their meals.
Officer Tapiador landed at San Francisco International Airport just hours before that moment and coordinated the surprise with his wife when he found out on Wednesday that he could come home for Christmas.
“I planned everything. I contacted the USO. I didn’t know the USO could do it for us,” said Alfanso.
“Oh, I was happy, like ecstatic,” said Tapiador. “I was telling my Chief, book my on that flight on Saturday.”
Being home for Christmas is something Officer Tapiador wasn’t sure was possible. He was hoping to be home sometime early next year.
“Not being here on Christmas would be like a sad day for us,” he said. “I mean, me skipping like missing my boys’ birthdays, it’s bad enough. But missing Christmas would be a down moment for us.”
And what 8-year-old Giancarlo had wished for every day.
“I was like so emotional. My heart is just so touched. It’s like a miracle,” said the boy. “God just answered our prayers.”
After lunch, they were all smiles as they took a picture with Santa.