After not seeing his brother Army Spc. Adrian Equihua, 22, for over a year, Arroyo Valley High School senior Ruben Equihua, 17, was given a big surprise during a sports pep rally on Friday August 22 at the San Bernardino campus.
Principal Gordon Emerson called Ruben from the stands as a part of the “senior spotlight” which celebrates the efforts of senior students. He was unsure what he had done to receive that type of attention.
Just moments later, looking over the shoulders of Emerson, he saw his big brother and gave him a hug as hundreds of students cheered from the bleachers of the gymnasium.
“I haven’t seen him in a year,” Ruben said tearfully after the assembly. “Knowing that he’s home safe and sound makes me happy.”
Big brother Adrian came up with the idea, after consulting with his wife about it after he arrived back to the United States after serving nine months in Afghanistan.
“We didn’t really have a lot time to communicate,” Adrian said. “I told my wife, ‘Hey what do you think about me surprising Ruben?’. I spoke to Mrs. Elliot and they were really helpful in getting this together.”
Ruben’s immediate reaction was to hug his brother. He felt obligated to do so.
“It’s great to know that he’s safe,” he said.
The two brothers both grew up in San Bernardino and are avid soccer fans. Adrian, a 2010 Arroyo Valley graduate said it felt great coming back to his “stomping grounds”, where he said he remembers running up and down the halls and interacting with old teachers.
Ruben said his brother means the world to him.
“Every time someone asks me, like, why do I like soccer
so much or why do I enjoy playing so much, it’s because growing up, he was always there to teach me new stuff,” Ruben said. “He was always there to teach me a new trick he learned. And when I couldn’t do it, he’d get frustrated with me, just like a big brother would, but he never gave up on me.”
Ruben plans to attend college after he graduates from Arroyo Valley high school to study business management, whil Adrian plans to be a career soldier.
Joining Adrian at the high school was his wife, their daughter of 18 months, and Ruben’s mother. Adrian is home for two weeks before he has to report back to Fort Drum in New York for training for deployment.