Staff Sergeant Mark DeAlencar was 37 years old, had a family and was a Green Beret with the 7th Army Special Forces stationed in the Fort Walton area. He was killed on April 8, 2018, while fighting Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan. In January of this year, he was deployed for the second time to Afghanistan. He promised his stepdaughter, Octavia, that he would be home for her High School Graduation. He didn't make it. But she went to graduation anyway. And in the audience were eighty (80) US 7th Armed Special Forces soldiers from her dad’s unit in full Parade Dress Uniform. Additionally, they brought their families to be with them, as well.

And as Octavia ascended the steps to the stage to receive her diploma they all silently stood up. And when she was presented her diploma they all cheered, clapped, whistled, and cried. Everyone in attendance then stood up, cried and cheered. Octavia had graduated, and yes she had lost her Dad… but she had 80 other dads to stand there with her and take his place. This is the real America we all love… and I'm proud to be part of it. May God bless our men in uniform and their families who give so much.
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