Marine gives nieces early Christmas surprise

Sgt. Edwin Hernandez, a Marine stationed in Japan, surprised his nieces Friday at Asheville Mall. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

At the Asheville Mall, all the anticipation is around seeing the big man, Santa. It's what 12-year-old Kati and her little sister Kaylee have been looking forward to.

In their Christmas dresses, the two posed for a perfect Christmas picture with Santa. But, the family was not complete.

The girls said they missed their uncle, Sgt. Edwin Hernandez, a Marine stationed in Japan. The two haven't seen their uncle in three years.

When Santa asked Kati what she wanted for Christmas, she replied, "For my uncle to get home safely."

Although that's a gift no one could purchase, Santa used Christmas magic to make Kati's wish come true. Their uncle popped out of a big red and white striped box Friday evening, surprising his nieces.

"I'm very excited he's home safe and just made it back," his sister Ana Sonseca said.

Hernandez presented the girls with Marine teddy bears from Build-A-Bear.

"It's great to see how much they have grown. And anytime you get to spend time with your family, it's something you really cherish," Hernandez said.

The Marine said seeing his nieces' faces was the best gift he could have received.

"There are certain individuals that don't have that luxury to be able to spend time with their loved ones, so, for me to have this, I really feel blessed," he said.

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