May 19, 2013 at 10:59 AM ET
Last fall, Pvt. Victoria Piccoli, 19, was about to graduate from basic training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina when she appeared on TODAY to talk to Lester Holt about serving her country at such a young age.
Inspired by her father, an active-duty Marine deployed to Afghanistan, Piccoli had enlisted in the Army with his encouragement. “It’s been working out,” she said. “It’s great for my future.”
What she didn’t know is that Holt, reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, had a surprise in store that would bring tears to her eyes.
Lt. Col. Francis Piccoli, Victoria’s father, was waiting off-screen to congratulate his daughter via satellite.
“Victoria, how are you doing, sweetheart?” he said.
“Hey Dad,” she responded with a big smile as her voice cracked.
“I am incredibly proud of your generation,” said Francis. “And you are a perfect example of the generation of Americans that come up behind us.”
The father and daughter hadn’t seen each other for months, and wouldn’t get to reunite in person until recently, when Victoria marked another milestone – graduating from signal intelligence training at Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas.
At the ceremony, her “biggest fan” pinned a service badge on her uniform.
“It's going to be one of those moments in time you'll remember with you always,” he said of Victoria’s accomplishment.
The admiration between father and daughter is mutual.
“I'm proud of him,” Victoria told TODAY. “He's gonna tell me that he's proud of me, but I'm also proud of my dad.”