A little boy’s beloved plush dinosaur was used to keep his father company on tour in Iraq.
And in return, the US Army sergeant documented the animal’s embedded “adventures” abroad.
To “protect his father from 6,000 miles away,” 5-year-old Waylon Holmes mailed his father David the bright green stuffed animal around the world, a possession that was hard to part with considering Dino hasn’t left Waylon’s side since birth.
“Waylon sleeps with Dino every night, but he wanted to send it to his father while he was stationed in Iraq,” Waylon’s mother, Taylor, told Kennedy News and Media. “He said it would help him stay safe and travel home safely.”
David, a 33-year-old first class sergeant, had been in Iraq for almost a year when he was surprised in the mail by Waylon’s beloved Dino, along with a letter asking for photographic evidence of Dino’s travels.
“I think he was definitely happy and excited to have a piece of home. I’m sure it smelled like home too,” Taylor said.
David left for training in August and was in Iraq for about seven months when he received the stuffed animal in May.
“It took about two weeks for the mail to get to him and he sent the first picture back right away,” Taylor said.
“We showed Waylon the pictures as his dad sent them and he saw different things Dino was doing with his dad while he was gone.”
The 32-year-old Ohio mom created a slideshow of snaps of Dino and David together – they were riding in an armored SUV, hitting the gym, taking group photos and at one point the dinosaur was put in David’s uniform – and it unexpectedly went viral.
“He had some of his friends take some pictures for him,” she said. “They wanted to make sure Dino was involved in things. He’s in the big group picture – Waylon really likes that picture.”
Waylon, who has a “strong bond” with his father, missed David when he was away – the couple loved to go fishing or exploring the great outdoors together.
So in his absence, Taylor tried to “make it even more fun.”
“We Facetimed David and got him involved by sending him Christmas decorations for his room and things like that,” she explained.
But after missing Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays and more, David returned to his family earlier this month.
“I am very happy that he came home safely. I’m very, very grateful,” said Taylor, who has been married to David for six years.
Taylor’s TikTok video of Dino’s daring adventures has been viewed more than 3 million times as users thanked David for his service and praised the dad’s playfulness.
“I know it made him feel a lot closer to you guys,” wrote one viewer.
“Like how I would have sobbed if I was given my baby’s favorite fabric,” agreed another.
“I’m crying he’s an amazing dad,” praised another.
“All I know is that he cried when he opened the package and saw it,” commented another. “I know I would have sobbed.”