RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- An AV-8B Harrier mechanic with Marine Attack Squadron 311 was reunited with his parents at a United Service Organizations concert special in Ramstein Air Base, Germany, recently.
Sgt. Doug Acero, an avionics technician with VMA-311 has been deployed to Al Asad, Iraq, since November 2004. He served with the ‘Tomcats’ of VMA-311 and augmented Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, in Fallujah from November 25 to Jan. 25, 2005.
“I don’t feel like I deserve this to happen to me. I just consider myself really lucky. This was an awesome surprise,” said Acero.
Acero traveled to Ramstein thinking he was only picked to represent his unit at a USO concert, not to see his parents for the first time in seven months.
“I had no idea what was going on, but I realized something had been planned for me when I arrived at the concert,” said the Sugar Land, Texas, native.
Upon arrival to the show, Acero was met by a team of production assistants who wanted to make sure he wouldn’t see his parents until show time.
“I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere,” he said. “I always had someone watching me and not allowing me to do anything without an escort. They stuck me in the front row and told me to not move for the entire concert.”
Acero wasn’t the only one in his family chomping at the bit waiting for something to happen. His parents, Gloria and Jamie, were hidden away in the “green” room until the moment they would be allowed to finally hug their son for the first time in months.
“I just wanted to see him so badly,” said Jamie Acero. “I saw him on the screen in the green room during the show because he was up front and I could barely hold in my excitement.”
Ninety minutes into the taping Doug began questioning if anything was going to happen. Not knowing that in a few minutes he would be hugging his mother on stage in front of the thousands on-hand and millions of viewers when it airs on TV.
“I was thinking that getting to sit up front was all that they would be doing,” Acero said. “Earlier they had said that I was going to get called on stage, but they never told me why so I just figured they ran out of time to do whatever they had planned for me.”
Soon after thinking nothing was going to happen, Acero was called on stage with the show’s hosts, Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson. While on stage the three made small talk about what he missed most about home and what he wished he could do if he was home now.
“Of course I miss my family and friends the most,” said Acero.
Before he knew it a video of his parents and younger sister wishing him safety and a quick return home played on stage. All of a sudden his parents walked on stage to meet him with open arms.
“When I hugged my mom I just didn’t want to let go,” he said. “I have been without them for so long. I just didn’t want to let go. It was a cool moment that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
After the reunion, the Aceros spent the next couple of days sight seeing and catching up on news from home.
Acero has another three weeks in Iraq until he is scheduled to return home and can continue the short reunion he experienced with his family in Germany.
The Acero’s family reunion can be seen on May 23 when the concert airs on ABC with performances by Jessica Simpson, Nick Lachey, Brian McKnight, Willie Nelson, Jimmy Kimmel and country duo Big and Rich.
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