Life Video

By Luke Kenton

This mother-of-three was stunned to tears during her weekly supermarket shop, after her soldier brother surprised her in the aisles after a year away serving. 

Big sister Valerie Burns, 30, insists she’s always been very close to her younger brother, Brian Rodriguez, 24.


From skipping out on school, to assisting with the birth of her first child, Brian and Valerie have lived most of their lives in tandem, but with her brother spending the past 12 months serving away in the national guard, Valerie had to adapt to life without her accomplice by her side. 

Not expecting Sergeant Rodriguez home for another month, Valerie was out shopping with her three children – Conner, 7, Lily, 3, and Elaine, 1 – in Huntsville, Alabama, when a familiar voice called out her name. 

Looking up to see her older brother Jon smiling at her with a camera phone in hand, the mother-of-three was completely unaware of the scene unfolding behind her. 


Turning around after noticing a uniformed figure standing behind her in the camera of her phone, Valerie unleashes a spasm of erratic movements as she struggled to catch her breath at the sight of Brian before her. 

Asking, ‘What are you doing here?’ through tear-filled eyes as her brother pulls her close, the pair then locked into a firm embrace before celebrating their reunion. 

Admitting she almost blacked out in shock at the surprise on June 6, Valerie said: “The last time I saw Brian was just over a year ago, at a ceremony dinner for soldier’s and their families. 

“Brian and I have always been incredibly close – I remember when we were little we were always getting into trouble together. 

“I used to see him in the halls at school and sneak him into my classes – he used to come with me everywhere I went. 

“When I had my first child, he was there rubbing my head as I gave birth, after my husband passed out on the couch. 

“I wasn’t expecting him home till the end of July.

“I was in complete shock, first to see Jon, but when I turned to see Brian I just lost all memory.

“I was so emotional and glad he was home safe. 

“Every time I watch it back, I tear up reliving that moment.”