FM airman home early surprises wife
Back from five months in Afghanistan.
NAPLES — Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Bob Sanfilippo had surprised his wife, Melanie, before.
For her 50th birthday, he picked her up at the airport in a new black Jaguar. From Afghanistan, he’d phoned lunchtime pizza deliveries for her marketing department at Chico’s FAS in Fort Myers.
Still, Melanie never saw this one coming.
When she arrived Saturday morning at Naples Harley-Davidson to pick up her husband’s new motorcycle, Bob, who was given leave from Afghanistan one month earlier than expected, popped out from behind her. She left the dealership with a new ride and her husband of five years.
“I’m just speechless. This man is the most amazing man,” said Melanie, 51. “He’s so selfless and so humble and so giving. It’s a complete surprise, but the fact that Bob did this, he’s always doing amazing things for me.”
The reunion became a spur-of-the-moment shock when a travel scheduling mix-up allowed Bob, 46, to leave Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan for his Fort Myers home early. Bob had bought a new, custom-built 2013 CVO Road Glide Screaming Eagle, and it was scheduled for pick-up Friday in Naples.
Knowing this, an idea washed over Bob. He’d be back in Southwest Florida on Saturday. So he called the dealership, asked the sales staff to make up an excuse — a missing part needed to be ordered — and delayed the pickup by one day.
“It actually came together quite quickly,” Bob said.
When Melanie arrived Saturday morning, Bob hid behind a side door, flowers in his arms. She walked to the motorcycle, giving it a once-over. A crowd started gathering.
Then, out came Bob in his uniform, taking his wife into his arms.
“It’s good to be home,” Bob said, “and it’s going to be nice to share some time with her.”
For 26 years, Bob’s traveled the world with the Air Force, most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan. On Bagram Airfield, he worked at night, inspecting loadmasters who filled C-130s with food and water and bullets and fuel. He loves the military, loves the people, and will remain in the Reserve.
For now, his sights are set on the open road down to Key West, his wife behind him on their new ride.
“To have this great Harley, we’re going to have so much fun on it,” Melanie said. “We’re going to take off and make up for all the lost time of the last six months.”