An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

How my dad and I surprised each other on deployment

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Leilany Hartmann
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

My dad is part of the command team for the 191st Regional Support Group of the Puerto Rico National Guard (PRNG). The Commander of the PRNG, MG Jose Reyes, the Command Chief Warrant Officer of the PRNG, CW5 Manuel Couverthie, the Commander of the 191st Regional Support Group, Col Paul Dahlen, and the CSM for the 191st Regional Support Group Regional Support Group, CSM Jose Antonio Ramos-Ocasio, my father, came out to visit their soldiers assigned to the 783rd Support Maintenance Company at various locations in CENTCOM.

On the morning of November 15th, I was invited to the C-12 RFC conference room under the impression that I would be part of a panel discussing Puerto Rican culture. After waiting a little while for the panel to begin, we started to hear people entering the building followed by Col Dahlen entering the conference room. As we were standing at parade rest, the next person to enter the room was my father! I was thrilled to see him there and could not believe it! We spent maybe 15 minutes together; it was bittersweet, and I wish we would have had more time together.

The PRNG soldiers at Camp Sparta that helped my dad orchestrate this surprise suggested I return the gesture and surprise my dad at Camp Buerhring on Thursday, at their last stop before heading back to Puerto Rico. Why not?!

On Thursday afternoon, we headed over to Camp Buehring where I planned on surprising my dad at dinner. This time he had no idea! He called me when they landed at AASAB with hopes to see me really quick, but I told him I was in a meeting and couldn't talk; in reality, I was already waiting for him at Camp Buehring. We made our way to the DFAC and waited for the command team to arrive while we had dinner and that's when he saw me. It was great to spend a few hours with him while he made sure to listen and take care of their soldiers' concerns.

Shortly after that, MG Reyes and the leadership team recognized many of their top performers and made several announcements that impacted the PRNG, where he also stated that my dad will be the next State CSM for the PRNG! Very proud moment!

It was such a special occasion as I've never been present in any type of military event with my dad; the biggest reason I joined the Air Force was because of him and the advice he gave me 11 years ago. Seeing his interactions with their soldiers and the way he takes care of them, the stories they shared with me, really inspires me to keep moving forward and do the best I can to care for those that allow me to do so. He has 38 years of service and more to go. My mom also served in the PR State Guard as an officer, my grandfather (dad's dad) was in the PRNG, my uncle retired from the Army, his wife also served, my great uncle was with the Army in Vietnam, and my husband recently hit 10 years of active-duty service in the Air Force. My brother is currently in the PRNG, and my cousin is in the Army, prior Air Force. I come from a military family and am very proud of it.

There were so many great moments throughout this deployment; this was the best one.