Air Force sergeant reunited with family at Squirrels game

richmond flying squirrelsThe Richmond Flying Squirrels assisted in an emotional surprise homecoming for Air Force Tech Sergeant Rob Champine during Saturday’s game against Altoona.

Sergeant Champine, returning from deployment in Southwest Asia and the Middle East, was hiding inside of the Squirrels Pick-A-Box promotion, unbeknownst to his entire family. Sergeant Champine’s eight-year-old son Justin was selected as the Pick-A-Box contestant and given the option to win a prize from three boxes varying in sizes. Justin initially selected the middle box, winning a Squirrels jersey.

The Squirrels then unveiled the other two boxes to Justin and at that moment Sergeant Champine leapt out to embrace his son Justin, daughter Alexis and wife Merly (video here).

The moving moment brought the Flying Squirrels crowd, both teams and umpires, to a roaring applause and ovation. Champine was returning from his fourth deployment during his military career.

“When his friends approached us about doing this, we jumped at the opportunity,” said Flying Squirrels VP & COO Todd “Parney Parnell.  “We love and appreciate the military and we always say we are in the memory making business, so this was a chance of a lifetime for us as an organization as well and it was one of the most emotional moments I’ve ever seen at a ballpark.”


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