PINE BUSH – Unity Corona, a 2015 Pine Bush graduate and Air Force airman first class, left for a deployment to Japan 16 months ago. Last week, that long stint away from her family — her parents and five siblings — temporarily came to an end in the office of Circleville Middle School Principal Lisa Hankinson.
"I'm nervous," Corona said as she sat in the principal's office with her grandmother, Silvia Angus, waiting for her parents to arrive. "I think they'll be excited. It feels awesome." Her grandma, she said, was the only family member who knew she was coming home.
Two weeks prior, Unity had reached out to Hankinson to let her know that she would be coming home on leave for a few weeks and wanted to surprise her family by showing up a week ahead of schedule. Hankinson was happy to oblige, and helped get the ball rolling by arranging an impromptu conference with Unity's parents, Gino and Julie Corona. When they both walked into Hankinson's office expecting a hastily-scheduled conference about their two youngest children, instead they found their oldest daughter smiling broadly at them. "This is such a blessing," said Gino, very much in shock. Julie melted into her daughter's arms, burying her face into Unity's hug. "Look at my girl," said Julie, tears streaming down her cheeks. "I'm so proud of you."
Next up was Unity's siblings. Her two youngest siblings were being honored at a CVM "Town Hall" meeting, and were seated on stage. As they received their awards, they were told a surprise guest was there to see them, and Unity came out on stage to greet them, again to tears and huge smiles. Unity gave a speech to the kids there, the Corona's did an interview with News12, then they packed into the car to go surprise two more of the Corona kids at Pine Bush High School.
It was a wonderful day for the Coronas — "The best day ever," according to Julie. This tight-knit family from Bloomingburg plans to appreciate every minute they have with Unity for the next three weeks before she has to return to Japan, where she will be stationed until January 2019. Their first meal together will be a family favorite — New York-style pizza.
"We're so proud of the choices that she's made," said Julie of her eldest daughter. "I'm so grateful. We pray endlessly for her, especially because of the times we are in. We are thankful and so blessed."