It didn’t take long for the Tilton family to learn that Wareham is a very special community, after Wareham High school officials helped facilitate a very special moment in which two brothers were reunited after almost a year apart.

The Tiltons moved from Las Vegas to Wareham back in April of 2021, and very soon thereafter, 18-year-old Colby Tilton enlisted in the National Guard and went away for basic training. He then immediately went from basic to Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) training.

That meant that, until this week, he hadn’t seen his 16-year-old brother Dylan for about 10 months.

“They’re more than brothers, they’re best friends,” said their mom, Joyelle Tilton. “They do everything together, so this was a really big homecoming for them to be together again.”

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Lost Paperwork Set the Stage for the Big Surprise

Colby was supposed to return home last week, but paperwork issues with his transfer from a base in Oklahoma to another in Missouri held him up.

“He called us on Tuesday and said, ‘Hey, I’m coming home, can you pick me up in Providence?’” Tilton said, noting that’s when her mind started turning with the idea to surprise Dylan while he was at school. Dylan is a junior at Wareham High and part of the school’s Junior ROTC program, and his mom thought that would be the perfect time for the surprise.

“I called the school and asked if there was any way we could surprise him with his brother when he comes in, and they said they’d get back to me. They said ‘We’ll make it happen, but it might have to be outside because of COVID rules,’” Tilton said. “But then they told me that as long as we wore masks, we could come in during the JROTC class.”

As evidenced in the video below, the surprise worked.

Watch as the Tilton Brothers Reunite for the First Time in Almost a Year

“He was blown away,” Tilton said, giving special credit to Dylan’s guidance counselor and WHS Principal Scott Palladino for making it happen.

After the heartwarming reunion, Colby spoke to the JROTC class for about 45 minutes, sharing his experiences in basic training, Advanced Individual Training (AIT), and his thoughts on the possibility he might be activated to go to Ukraine in a couple of weeks as Russian forces seem poised to invade.

“I’m absolutely terrified about that. I pray that he won’t be activated but I know that there’s a good chance he could be activated,” Tilton said. “He’s ok with it, he said that’s what he signed up to do.”

Colby Tilton Will Become a Doctor as Part of His Service

Colby will also attend UMass Boston in the pre-med program.

“He always wanted to be a doctor in the field, and we always knew he wanted to not just go in but be in the middle of it,” Tilton said. “We’re very proud of him, but as a mom, it’s probably the most terrifying thing you can hear your kid say.”

Contributed Photo
Contributed Photo

She said that although her husband Chad did not serve in the military, his whole family served. Also, her uncle was a fighter pilot in Vietnam, and her grandfather was a fighter pilot in World War II who was shot down over Poland and spent a few months as a prisoner of war.

Tilton said Colby’s desire to be a doctor, though, comes from his love of science and the medical field, including the fact that her father ran hospitals for a living.

Wareham Made This Special Reunion Happen

She said that were it not for the small, close-knit community her family now calls home (her daughter, Brie, lives out in Los Angeles), this special reunion could never have taken place.

Contributed Photo
Contributed Photo

“We came from Vegas where it was a big city with a big high school,” she said, noting Colby had 1,800 students in his graduating class there. “We would not have been able to make this happen if we stated there, but being in a small place like Wareham, it was able to all come together.”

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