A soldier dad kept in touch with his son while on deployment in Iraq by sending him photos and videos with his favorite stuffed dinosaur.
Waylon Holmes, from Dayton, Ohio, wanted to send his stuffed dinosaur, Dino, to his dad, Taylor, to help keep him safe and stop him from feeling lonely while away from his family.
David, 33, a sergeant first class with the Army National Guard, left home in August 2022 when he headed to Texas and Oklahoma for a few months of training.
Then, in October 2022, David was deployed to Iraq, where he was set to be based until July 2023 before spending his final month of service debriefing in Texas.
During David’s time in the Middle East, Waylon, aged five, told his mom, Taylor, 32, he wanted to send his dad Dino, and so the pair packaged the soft toy up and mailed him to David’s location.
Included in the package was a message from Waylon, asking his dad to take pictures of Dino while on duty in the Middle East.
Sure enough, David obliged, sending Waylon photos of Dino on many adventures – with servicemen and women, in the gym, on equipment, traveling – and he even snuck his head in on video calls.
Dino went everywhere in David’s bag and Waylon loved following his dad and Dino’s adventure.
On August 3, 2023, the Holmes family were finally reunited, ending David’s 359-day stint away from his loved ones.
Taylor said: “David took Dino all over the base in Iraq – he snuck him into group photos, took him to the gym, took him to the fire trucks and carried him in his bag with him.
“So, he essentially went everywhere David did.
“Waylon loved seeing his dad with his Dino, he was so excited each time I had a picture to show him.
“He definitely missed his Dino and his dad, of course, but he was happy they were together and loved hearing of all the places David took him.
“The response to the video has been so heartwarming and uplifting – all of the well wishes for David and our family have been beyond amazing.
“We are so grateful and blessed we were able to create something for others to connect with.”