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Jul 1, 2014 6:18 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Airman Surprises Brother At Eastport South Manor Graduation

Jul 2, 2014 12:44 PM

At Friday’s commencement ceremony at the Eastport South Manor Junior-Senior High School, one graduate received his diploma from a special guest.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Robert Black surprised his younger brother, Jacob, during the ceremony. Jacob and his mother, Jill Rignola, did not know that Airman Black was coming home to Manorville for the ceremony, as he had been stationed in Oklahoma for the past year.

The airman previously told his mother that he was called on a training mission and would not be able to make it home in time to see his brother graduate from high school.

But before Jacob’s name was announced Friday evening, Airman Black, who graduated from ESM in 2010, was invited to the stage by High School Principal Joseph Steimel.

“I couldn’t really hear anything, so I didn’t know what was going on until I saw him up there,” Jacob said when reached on Monday. “It was a complete shock.”

Jacob met his brother at the middle of the stage, and the two exchanged a long hug while graduates and those in attendance stood and cheered. Jacob, clearly overwhelmed in the moment, cried while hugging his sibling and on the ensuing walk back to his seat among his classmates. He was not the only one moved to tears, as teachers and students could also be seen wiping tears during and after the siblings met on stage.

“I was absolutely shocked,” Ms. Rignola said. “Of course, I started bawling. I’m so grateful that he was able to do this for Jacob.”

The Black brothers plan on spending as much time together as possible over the next month while Robert is home.

Jacob, one of 292 students who received their diplomas on Friday night, plans to study criminal justice and psychology this fall at the University of Hartford.

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in this case balling is spelled bawling. For shame editor!
By sgt202 (75), Hampton Bays on Jul 2, 14 11:58 AM
8k run & 3 mile walk, Agawam Park, Southampton Rotary Club fundraiser