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Whitecaps host surprise military family reunion

Baseball Team Helps Military Dad Pull Off Incredible Surprise

COMSTOCK PARK - It was a first pitch the Bunyea family will never forget.



Fox 17 reports: When Kora, 5, and Wyatt, 4, each threw out the first pitch at Fifth Third Ballpark before the Whitecaps game against Bowling Green, they thought they were just throwing the ball to a complete stranger.

But when the catcher took off his mask, they soon realized they had thrown the pitch to their dad, United States Air Force Master Sergeant Aaron Bunyea, who was returning home after being stationed in Honduras since October 2013.

The two children raced to their father, and along with their mother, Callie, they joined in their first big family hug in nearly 9 months. It was an emotional surprise that was thought up by Aaron and then put together by Callie and the West Michigan Whitecaps.

"I had been watching the YouTube videos quite often," said Master Sergeant Bunyea. "I'd only seen one other surprise like this. I knew the Whitecaps were close to where [my family] was at, so I made the call."

His wife, Callie, is a Rockford High School alum and brought the kids back to Rockford when Aaron left for Honduras. When Aaron came up with the idea for the surprise reunion, it caught her by surprise.

"He's generally a pretty reserved person," said Callie. "Most of our homecomings have just been us in the airport waiting for him to come home. To do something to this magnitude was really interesting and exciting. For me, it means a lot as their mom to know that he wants to do this -- go out of his comfort zone to surprise them and really make a good memory for them."

After the ballgame, the family will begin a camping trip for the Fourth of July holiday. Master Sergeant Bunyea is scheduled to return to Honduras at the end of July.

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vietnamveteran1 July 07 2014 at 9:12 AM

Sure was fun returning from Vietnam after 13 months and told not to wear your uniform. And don't tell anyone you are in the military.

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mtwarwag vietnamveteran1 July 07 2014 at 11:17 PM

I'm a Vietnam Vet. and grandfather with many grand kids.Sure we didnot received a hero home coming but we came home. You should be happy that current miltary personel do not come home the way we did.

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zweepz July 07 2014 at 8:55 AM

These productions are rather self-absorbed. Why not simply go home and reunite with your children as soon as possible? I'm thrilled that the families are being reunited, and I appreciate the service and sacrifice, truly. Just don't get all this public spectacle.

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2 replies
IgetItNow zweepz July 07 2014 at 12:12 PM

I agree. What about the families in that crowd who's loved isn't coming home?. I think doing this in public is selfish. They'll be just as surprised in the privacy of their homes.

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zewkeeper122 zweepz July 07 2014 at 4:12 PM

Let me break it down for you two self absorbed individuals.
As a parent, seeing your children go without their father's/mother's presence for all the school functions, Holidays, & family affairs, they attend where they DO see both parents with their children.... is VERY challenging, to say the least!! Remember, these are not parents who have walked away , separated, or gone through a divorce (not that those children are not special because they are) these are parents who SELFLESSLY (because selfish, as you called them, is a total contradiction!!!) VOLUNTEER to join our military so you and I can sleep in our cozy little beds at night and enjoy our freedoms!!
The point is, these children DESERVE a special moment....and who else to give it to them!! Get some class and learn to be happy for others!!
Hoorah! God bless our troops!!

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lkemer July 07 2014 at 9:00 AM

There is nothing sweeter than to see the smiles of a child who sees their parent after a long absence. With all the horrid things some parents do to their children, these videos give me a warm feeling inside knowing that there are still parents who love and missed their children.

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William July 07 2014 at 11:29 AM

I'm happy for them but really, it's getting old to see these "surprises" posted as news. No one is surprised anymore.

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1 reply
zewkeeper122 William July 07 2014 at 4:14 PM

Oh contrary, it never gets old!!!

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Mike July 07 2014 at 7:33 AM

These men who do this are going to have a real long haul once they realize that life will no longer accommodate their egos.

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1 reply
Rhett Mike July 07 2014 at 8:50 AM

We are in Honduras for combat?? I was OS longer than that several times!

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alspoolhall July 07 2014 at 7:01 AM

Could somebody please yell "SURPRISE" at one of these reunions?! For Pete's sake people . . . without that it makes for a dull and boring anticlimax! But it's a nice gesture for little kids . . . to be surprised by a returning parent.

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bullmesht July 07 2014 at 5:55 PM

Getting a little long in the tooth here. My son is in the salvation army and has been at stop &shop 3 days now....... Seriously what happened to the guys in nam when they came home? Nothing

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MASTER July 07 2014 at 4:44 PM

Shouldn't families be expecting something like this by now?

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ectullis July 07 2014 at 9:17 AM

Honduras, nice duty

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bambi4318.barbara July 07 2014 at 6:06 PM

Why do we have troops in Honduras; that was news to me.

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