PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Two Rockford siblings threw the first pitch at a West Michigan Whitecaps game to a catcher they have been waiting on for months.
Wyatt Bunyea, 4, and his sister Kora, nearly 6, threw Monday’s ceremonial first pitch at Fifth Third Ballpark. What they didn’t immediately realize was that the man wearing the Whitecaps uniform and catcher’s mask was their father.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Aaron Bunyea said before the pitch. “I’ve been gone since October. It was almost nine months ago that I last saw them.”
Over the last 16 years, Master Sgt. Bunyea has served in Kuwait, Qatar, Afghanistan and twice in Iraq. Most recently, he was in Honduras.
His children didn’t know he was back Monday.
“When he leaves, we do what they call their ‘Daddy Countdown,'” wife and mother Callie Bunyea said. “They have a Mason jar full of M&Ms, and we’ve learned to pad it by a couple of days, but each day they get to get up and eat one M&M and every day, they’re closer to Daddy coming home. And right now they think there’s about five days left.”
Bunyea’s children threw their first straight down the middle (though it was a little short), and then the catcher removed his mask.
That’s when they realized it was their dad.
“I was excited,” Kora said.
They rushed to hug him.
“It was good,” Bunyea said. “I’ve been waiting since October to do it. I’m glad I got to finally do it.”
==Watch Bunyea’s children greet him above.==
“It is exciting to see them reunited with their dad,” Callie Bunyea said. “It’s very emotional as a mom. It’s a lot of fun, though. We’re happy to be able to do it for them.”
The family plans to move back to South Carolina later this year, where Bunyea will finish out the final four years of his 20-year military commitment.