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Marissa Orlando cuddles a pillow with her brother's face on it while surrounded by her family (from left) Spc. Tony Orlando, mom Michelle Bockhorst and stepfather Walter Bockhorst.
 

Marissa Orlando, 13, sleeps with a pillow printed with a photo of her hero: her brother, Spc. Tony Orlando from the U.S. Army. A heart transplant patient at Cardinal Glennon, Marissa draws strength and inspiration from her older brother.

On Sept. 22, the Troy, Mo., teenager got a chance to see her hero—when he surprised her in her hospital room after a 10-month tour of Iraq.

Mom Michelle Bockhorst organized the surprise. Marissa knew that Orlando would be returning home with the 739th Engineering Unit soon, but she did not know when and certainly didn’t expect to see him walk into Cardinal Glennon.

“I was so happy to see him,” Marissa said.

Bockhorst was happy to create such a surprising and joyful moment for her daughter, but she admits it was hard to keep such a happy day a secret.

“I didn’t come down to the hospital yesterday because I just knew I couldn’t keep it a secret,” Bockhorst said, laughing.

The family was very happy to be reunited after such a long time apart. And Orlando, 21, was glad he got to surprise his younger sister with his return home.

“I knew she would like it,” he said.


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