NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - At graduation rehearsal, Nacogdoches High School senior Andrew Watson followed the directions. Walk across the stage, shake hands, and pose for a picture. Then he got a big surprise.
Andrew's brother, USMC Cpl. William Watson, received special permission to leave his ship early for his brother's graduation. He took a red-eye flight to Texas from California to make it to Stephen F. Austin State University's William R. Johnson Coliseum in time to see his brother.
Andrew was with his class at the Coliseum to get an early look at the facility before he walks the stage Friday.
"Congratulations, boss. Sorry I couldn't tell you," William said. "Had to surprise you a little bit."
The two brothers are very close, but their experiences are miles apart. William is serving with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and has been at sea since September.
"Basically sitting off the coast of the Middle East and Africa policing that area of the world making sure it's safe for everybody else," William said.
All of this took place while Andrew was overcoming learning disabilities. The 18-year-old had doubts about graduation.
"Every day," Andrew said. "And when I finally got to here, I finally got to this point."
The special assistance from teachers and his sibling's encouragement made the difference and helped Andrew reach his goal of graduating.
"Congratulations," William told his brother.
"Anytime, champ," William said.
William said his younger brother proved everyone wrong.
"Through it all people said he couldn't do it, and he wouldn't do it, and he proved everyone wrong, William said.
What could make a mom more proud?
"Gratifying," Sharon Tate, the brothers' mother said. "Gratifying because my kids want to take care of each other, and it showed."
Andrew says he's learning responsibility from his older brother. William says he's learning patience and to love people regardless of whom they are or what they are.
After a short visit, William will return to his base at Camp Pendleton in California. Andrew wants to attend an arts institute to seek study in his interests.