Sailor surprises family with early homecoming

Navy Reservist Rene Cano spent 9 months stationed in Bahrain

SAN ANTONIO – A family on the Northwest Side received a holiday surprise they'll never forget. 

Petty Officer First Class Rene Cano wanted to make his early homecoming a surprise for his entire family.

Cano spent nine months in Bahrain providing security aboard merchant ships before his tour ended abruptly.

"I hurt my leg when I was out there. They told me, ‘You're going home. You can't complete the mission,'" Cano said. "So I told my wife I'd like to do something special for the family on the way home."

Cano's wife, Nicole, and father, Raul, were the only ones who knew he had arrived in San Antonio Sunday.

After some quick maneuvering, the pair managed to get the family under one roof the next day. Raul told the family they would be filming a holiday greeting for Rene since he would not be home for Christmas.

As Cano sister, Monica, and mother, Lucha, looked through photos of him, they lamented the fact that they would be spending the holidays without Rene. Soon after, the family gathered on the couch as Raul began the message.

"We miss you. We love you. All I ask is that you keep your head down," Raul said.

Raul then pointed at the door and yelled, "Holy cow." Rene came bursting through the door, smiling and waving at his mother, sister, wife and their two daughters, six-year-old Ariana and four-month-old Elena. Monica and Lucha immediately began crying as the family shared several long embraces.

"Are you surprised?" Rene asked his mom. "So you came in last night and you didn't call me?" Lucha said.

Rene said he had no choice, he had to keep a secret. Although she was surprised, Lucha thought something special might happen after her daughter-in-law told her not to take a trip to Laredo.

"When I went to church I said, ‘Lord, if Rene is coming, please show me a sign,'" she said. "No sign came until right now. I'm just glad our son is home."

Rene's sister was equally as shocked, thanks to her father's ability to bend the truth.

"We thought my dad had contacted the news station so that we could get a message over to [Rene] because we haven't been able to communicate with him," Monica said. "So the whole point was to talk about how we were missing him."

Rene said he couldn't have asked for a better Christmas present. He got to meet his four-month-old daughter for the first time and bring some holiday cheer to his family.

"This is the best Christmas I've ever had," he said. "Coming home to family, there's no words for that."

For a list of recent stories Cory Smith has done, click here.

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