Daughter of SC soldier inspires tears with reaction to birthday surprise

The 5-year-old daughter of a soldier stationed at Fort Jackson Army installation in South Carolina has become an internet star, after a video was posted of her unguarded reaction to a custom-made stuffed bear.

Soldier David Villegas mailed the bear last week to his wife and daughter back home in San Antonio, Texas. The video of her opening the gift, tweeted out Oct. 11, shows his daughter Ellianna’ surprise when the bear is revealed to be wearing Army fatigues like her daddy.

But then it gets better.

“Hey, baby,” says the bear in her dad’s recorded voice, “daddy loves you and misses you so, so much and I can’t wait for you to be in my arms again. I love you very much.”

The girl’s eyes widen, she slaps her hands to her forehead in wonder, and her jaw drops: “Oh my…that’s daddy!” she yells, wrapping her arms around the bear. Then, mother and daughter share a hug.

It’s a video that has been retweeted 51,000 times and liked 114,000 times. Most claimed the clip made them cry.

“This old vet was in tears,” tweeted J.W. Hunter in response to the video.

“Twitter always reminding me that I’m a human being and that these videos are what life is about,” tweeted Brian L.

Vanessa Villegas said her husband was ordered to Fort Jackson, 85 miles southeast of Charlotte, for basic training in August, and the deployment has been hard on their daughter, reported media outlets. The specially made bear is known as a Build-A-Bear.

“We have no contact with him. Basically he’s gone for nine weeks and a couple of days,” Vanessa Villegas told TV station KSAT. “And after that, he has to go again for longer and so he won’t be back until April (2018)…It really meant a lot to give that (bear) to her so she can play it every time she misses him.”

(c)2017 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.)
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