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Petty officer surprises siblings with visit
by Tim Delaney
Jun 06, 2013 | 1327 views | 0 0 comments | 49 49 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tim Delaney photo
Navy Petty Officer Andrea Canlas, 21, left, listens to her 13-year-old brother, Zachary Vasquez, talk about her surprise visit to his classroom at Woodsboro Junior High School on Tuesday, June 4. Canlas and Vasquez's mother, Donella Saavedra, center, arranged the surprise visit. The siblings had not seen each other for nine months.
Tim Delaney photo Navy Petty Officer Andrea Canlas, 21, left, listens to her 13-year-old brother, Zachary Vasquez, talk about her surprise visit to his classroom at Woodsboro Junior High School on Tuesday, June 4. Canlas and Vasquez's mother, Donella Saavedra, center, arranged the surprise visit. The siblings had not seen each other for nine months.
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Navy Petty Officer Andrea Canlas, 21, hugs her 16-year-old sister, Danika Vasquez, at Woodsboro High School on Tuesday, June 4.
Navy Petty Officer Andrea Canlas, 21, hugs her 16-year-old sister, Danika Vasquez, at Woodsboro High School on Tuesday, June 4.
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WOODSBORO – Andrea Canlas dressed in her Navy whites moved stealthily toward 16-year-old Danika Vasquez, a Woodsboro High School student resting from taking a test in her classroom on Tuesday, June 4.

Canlas, 21, already had tears of happiness as Vasquez turned to see her sister.

“What? ... Oh my God,” Danika cried out.

The two embraced in a long hug with tears flowing. Nine months had passed without the two seeing each other.

Canlas is a sonar technician who signed up for six years in the U.S. Navy. She was recently promoted to petty officer.

“This is about her coming to our home for the first time,” said her mother, Donella Saavedra, 43, who lives in Bayside.

Saavedra moved to Bayside from Roswell, N.M. about eight months ago at the urging of her cousin.

“She’s tried to get me to move to Bayside for the last three years,” Saavedra said.

So Canlas has not seen her family’s new home.

After surprising Danika, the group moved to Woodsboro Junior High School where her 13-year-old brother, Zachary Vasquez, was in class.

Again the happy tears flowed and a long embrace was applauded by the class.

“Who is she?” one of the students asked.

“She’s my sister,” Zachary said.

Again the class applauded upon knowing Canlas was serving her country.

“She was graduated from Roswell High School in 2009. She attended college at Eastern New Mexico University,” Canlas’s mother said.

“She decided college wasn’t for her and joined the Navy,” Saavedra added.

Canlas went to basic training in Great Lakes, Ill, near Chicago.

“I will be here through Friday (June 7),” Canlas said, anticipating the visit.

“Then I’ll be in San Diego for one-and-a-half years, so it won’t be anytime soon that I will get to see my sister and brother again,” Canlas said.

She added that it won’t be anytime soon that she ships out, as well.

Saavedra said she talks to her daughter at least five times a day everyday.

“I’ve been planning this surprise for some time. It’s been hard keeping Andrea’s visit a secret,” she said.

The surprise was well worth the trouble.

Woodsboro High School Principal Linda Garza summed up the visit with a “Thank you for your service,” to Canlas.
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