Airman surprises family at sister's graduation

- As we approach the Memorial Day weekend, listening to the National Anthem evokes a little more emotion for Air Force Airman E-2 Joel Jaramillo.

The Wesley Chapel native has been in basic training for months and wanted to surprise his family with his return. 

His family, meanwhile, has been preparing for Joel's sister, Mayah to graduate from 8th grade at Weightman Middle School. 

Airman Jaramillo, who graduated from Wiregrass High School in 2015, decided the graduation ceremony would be the perfect time to make his return, so he hopped a flight back from Nevada early Friday morning.

“Honestly, I’m pretty nervous," Jaramillo said backstage, before making his appearance. "I don’t like being in front of people, but I’m also so excited because it’s my little sister so I’m happy to be there for her.”

As Mayah walked across the stage, Airman Jaramillo snuck to the end of the line of teachers congratulating students as they walked across the stage. 

When Mayah approached her brother, her shock was apparent.

“I really didn’t see him when I was walking up the steps, but when I saw him I was shaking, and I was really just surprised and shook up. I was like, 'Woo! Oh my God!' and then I just started crying," she said.

Also surprised was Joel’s father Carlos, who was recording video of Mayah's walk across the stage when he noticed his son.

“It's amazing when I see him in this uniform. It's like I have to bow to him, and to all those who served," Carlos said. "This year is big for me because my son is serving the country, so I'm honored."

Though his stay will be short, The Jaramillo family's Memorial Day weekend will be memorable.

Up Next:


Up Next

  • Airman surprises family at sister's graduation
  • Allegiant adds 9 routes to Sarasota-Bradenton airport
  • Trendy business incubator sets to launch in Lakeland
  • Monarch butterfly population may be in trouble
  • Motorized scooter craze on its way to Tampa
  • Conviction reviews return lives of wrongfully convicted in Hillsborough Co.
  • Most Bay Area counties make fast work of recounts
  • Charges dropped against former TPD officer Adam York
  • Pinellas crews clear dead fish after new wave of red tide
  • Volunteer hopes photos help Pasco pets find forever homes