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Retired Army Sergeant Stunned by Surprise Reunion With Battle Buddy After 12 Years

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A retiring Army sergeant was left stunned when his military battle buddy who he hadn’t seen in 12 years travelled across the country to surprise him at his retirement party.

Derek Bateman, 40, and Joe Malik, 52, first met while attending basic training for the United States Army’s basic training program at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, in 2010.

Derek and Joe bonded over being two of the “older guys” at training, and as both suffer from ADHD, they offered a level of support for one another.

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As they progressed into Advanced Individual Training (AIT), their camaraderie naturally grew, and the best pals finished as the top graduates in their class, focusing on cyber intelligence.

After completing training, Derek, a corporal, was sent to Afghanistan twice, while Joe, a sergeant first class, served elsewhere.

Though they were physically separated, they remained a constant source of support for each other – including when Joe almost lost his life while serving in Africa during one of his eight mobilizations.

Over the decade that followed, Derek would often talk about how much he missed spending time with Joe in person.

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And so, when he and his wife, Amber, received a secret invitation to Joe’s retirement party, the couple thought it was a perfect foil to reunite the two military buddies.

Derek and Amber travelled from their home in McKinney, Texas, to Derek’s house in Gig Harbor, Washington.

On June 24, Derek waited in the family’s garden, where a stunned Joe froze as he walked through the back gate before giving his friend a long-awaited hug.

Amber, who capture the moment on video, said: “I could feel the nerves my husband was experiencing as we waited for Joe to come through the back gate.

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“The moment they saw each other, tears welled in my eyes.

“You could see and feel how happy they were to be in the same space together again.

“You could see the rush of emotions rush over them as they walked towards each other to embrace.

“It was a truly beautiful moment shared between two battle brothers.

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“Derek and Joe serve as a testament to the lifelong bonds forged within the military and the profound impact it can have on individuals’ lives.

“The video serves as a reminder of the impact of human connections, even in the midst of the most challenging circumstances or distance.”

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