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Marine surprises friends in return home for Easter

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 April 2014 at 12:00 am

Cali Pietroboni, 19, was just promoted to private first class

Photos by Tom Rivers – Chelsea Hare, right, recognizes the person taking the order at Tim Hortons in Albion this afternoon.

ALBION – Cali Pietroboni told her closest friends she would get a few days off around Easter but would be spending that time in Miami.

Pietroboni, 19, is a Marine from Lyndonville. She was home for 10 days in January. That’s been it since leaving for Boot Camp last October. Her decision to go to Florida didn’t sit well with her best friend, Chelsea Hare.

Pietroboni and Hare have been close friends since elementary school at Lyndonville. They both graduated in 2013. They like to tease and surprise each other.

Pietroboni pulled off a shocker this afternoon. Hare’s mother Tina Hare was at the Tim Hortons in Albion. She had her daughter and another friend Rachael Allen come over at 1:30 p.m.

When they went to the counter to order, they saw a familiar face in the Tim Hortons uniform. Chelsea stood for a minute in disbelief and with a blank expression. They she broke out in a smile and in tears.

Cali Pietroboni and Chelsea Hare embrace at Tim Hortons in Albion.

Pietroboni met her at the end of the counter and the two had a long embrace.

“I thought there’s no way that’s Cali right now,” Hare said.

Pietroboni completed Boot Camp at Parris Island in South Carolina in January. She has been at Camp Johnson in North Carolina most of the past three months. She was recently promoted to private first class. She graduates from a personal administration school at Camp Johnson on June 3. She is eager to see her assignment. Many of the Marines at Camp Johnson have been assigned to service in foreign countries, she said.

Pietroboni also wanted to come home this weekend to see her parents, Derek and Vickie Dix, and her little brother Connor Dell.

“It’s been a great opportunity to travel and meet new people,” Pietroboni said. “There’s also pride in being a part of the world’s most elite fighting force.”

Cali Pietroboni hugs her friend Rachael Allen while Chelsea Hare watches.

Tina Hare helped orchestrate the surprise this afternoon. She has known Pietroboni for more than a decade. Despite Pietroboni’s diminutive stature – she’s only 4’ 11’’ – she has proven her strength and determination in recent months, Hare said.

“Ever since she was a little girl she wouldn’t back down,” Hare said. “And she’s always liked to joke around.”

Rachel Godfrey, the Tim Hortons manager, was happy to loan a uniform to Pietroboni for the surprise.

“I give her a lot of credit for going into the Marines,” Godfrey said.