SAN DIEGO - The family of a local Navy veteran gave him a surprise honor atop Mount Soledad on Saturday.
Retired sailor Nicholas Agulto had no idea his family was planning a surprise memorial service in his honor, along with a special plaque to thank him for his more than two decades of service.
As Agulto approached the stairs that lead to the cross atop Mount Soledad, cheers could be heard. Dozens of family members were awaiting his arrival.
Agulto served in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam. Little did he know, he would be honored for his service many years later atop Mount Soledad.
Two months ago, a special plaque was placed at the memorial in his honor. Saturday was the first time he would lay eyes on it.
"We've always wanted it to be a surprise for him because he's such a special man and we wanted to make sure that everybody, his grandchildren and you know, all of his children were here," said Norlina Maskevich, Agulto's daughter.
Agulto's military career began in 1946. He spent 24 years in the U.S. Navy as a chief petty officer, including four tours of duty in Vietnam.
Agulto was born in the Philippines. Today, he is 86 years young and lives in Kearny Mesa. He still works to keep in shape by walking 5 miles a day.
"I don't know we pulled it off, you know. It was a total surprise for him. He's a very humble man and I think he told my daughter, 'Wow, I don't deserve all of this,' but you know what, he is the most deserving, most deserving person," said Maskevich.
Following his military service, Agulto worked in civil service for 20 years and also worked as a meat cutter on 32nd Street.