'Operation Cupcake' for soldier who missed daughter's birthday h - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

'Operation Cupcake' for soldier who missed daughter's birthday helping Harvey victims

(Source: Julie Jackson Millen) (Source: Julie Jackson Millen)
Katy, TX (KLTV) -

A soldier from Tyler got a unique surprise from the people he helped in Katy after Hurricane Harvey unleashed his fury on the community.

Ben Theiring is a member of the National Guard who was assigned to Cinco Ranch in Katy to help victims devastated by flooding, along with Chris McNamara and Jake DeLoof.

Julie Jackson Millen was the civilian who rode along with them to navigate the destruction areas. Over the course of four days, she got to know the men well. 

Millen was riding next to Theiring on Saturday when she noticed him looking at pictures on his phone. Theiring showed her pictures of his wife Bethany and his little girl, Olivia. As it turned out, Theiring was missing Olivia's first birthday party. 

Millen apologized profusely and thanked him for being there to help them through a very difficult process. 

Millen says she came home Saturday night and knew she had to do something special for Theiring. She started texting friends and together they came up with a plan. 'Operation Cupcake' was born.

Millen and her friends Carrie Jackson Calkins, Katie Nicksic, Jackie Banchansky Shugart, Wendy Duncan, and Andrea McDonald Witte got to work planning a surprise birthday party for Theiring. Within hours, she and her friends put together 50 cupcakes, a sheet cake, and a smash cake for dad. They even bought toys and gift cards for him to take home. 

"So he can take his little girl shopping when he gets home," said Millen.

On Sunday, at the command center, Operation Cupcake was well underway. All they needed was the guest of honor.

The commander on site gathered his soldiers and told them they had a serious situation on their hands and everyone needed to head outside.

Theiring stepped out to cheers and everyone singing "Happy Birthday," in honor of his missing his little girl's first birthday.

"We felt so bad that he missed it for us. We couldn't have got through these last few days without him," Millen said as she tried to hold back tears, "All the guys who came down here have made it so much easier. So we just wanted to say thank you."

Millen said there was no way she was going to let an incredible hero go home empty handed. 

KLTV reached out to Theiring's mother who says she is so proud of the man her son has become. She also extended thanks to the women who had a helping hand in 'Operation Cupcake.'

"I am so amazed and touched by the people who have been through so much, taking time to do something so sweet for him and others who are there," said Maggie Theiring.

Communities in the Houston area have a long road to recovery ahead of them after the damage left behind from Harvey, and many don't have a place to call home at the moment.

Millen wanted Theiring and the other men she traveled with to know one thing: "These men will always have a home with us."

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