Santa makes early appearance for Cannon family|
by Greg Allen
27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
12/21/2009 - CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFNS) -- Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, but at the 27th Special Operations Wing here he is not the jolly fat man dressed in red. All one shopper at the base exchange knows is that someone who retired from the military made her family holidays a lot brighter.
Charlotte Riojas said she was patiently waiting at the BX checkout line with a cartful of presents for her children.
Their move from Hurlburt Field in Florida had, like virtually everybody else who makes a permanent change of station, been stressful. She, her husband, Tech. Sgt. Robert Riojas, assigned to the 27th Special Operation Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, and their children lived in base housing.
Their home in Florida was still on the market, which meant out of pocket expenses for the mortgage, she said. This Christmas was going to be extremely tight for them.
"I let the person in back of me go ahead, because he only had one item," said Mrs. Riojas, recalling the event. "I noticed a second gentleman had only two items, so I asked him if he, too, wanted to go in front of me. He said no."
As the clerk scanned her items, the stranger and Mrs. Riojas engaged in shopping banter, friendly chit chat between two people while listening to the beeping sound of the scanner. He asked her if she was Christmas shopping, and she said yes, but the list for her children just seemed to get longer.
"I told him I was paying with my credit card, because my kids wouldn't have much of a Christmas without it," she said. As she prepared to swipe her card, the gentleman told the cashier that he was going to pay for it.
"I said, 'No, sir,' you can't do that, but he said to me that he understands how things are," Mrs. Riojas said. "I was so touched that I burst into tears in the BX in front of everybody."
He paid the bill of $109 and told her that he did that for somebody once a year.
She said she was so taken aback that all she could ask was if she could hug him. He smiled as she wrapped her arms around him.
"I've been married for 11 years and we never had to worry about money before now, so that's why this is such a wonderful deed," Mrs. Riojas said. "He didn't know me at all, but he was so kind to buy my Christmas presents."
"I think this man's actions speak greatly about the kind of people we have at Cannon," said Sergeant Riojas, after hearing about the generous gift.
Merry Christmas, Secret Santa, it's good to know you put an early visit to Cannon AFB on your schedule.