Staff Sgt. Mark De Alencar of the Army’s 7th Special Forces Group made a promise to his stepdaughter, Octavia Osborne.

“He told me he’d be back in time for my graduation from Niceville High School,” Osborne said with a slight smile. “He promised.”

Unfortunately,  on April 8, the 37-year-old Green Beret died of injuries from enemy small arms fire while his unit was conducting counter-ISIS operations in Nangarhar Province.

Octavia’s mother, Natasha, and De Alencar had a “yours, mine and ours” situation, with both of them having children from previous relationships, as well as having two children together.

Natasha was contacted by a member of an Army care team shortly after De Alencar’s death to make arrangement for some of her late husband’s brothers-in-arms to attend Octavia’s graduation ceremony

“They asked me if I would ask the school administration if there would be enough room for some of the Green Berets from the 7th Group to attend,” Natasha recalled. “I asked how many, and he said ‘about 80.’ I was like, ’80? Really?’ ”

On May 25th, the contingent from the 7th Group included not only the Green Berets in their dress uniforms, but many of their spouses and children as well.

“When my name was called and you heard this uproar from the stadium, it caught me off guard,” said Octavia. “I didn’t know if I should be embarrassed, starstruck or what. But it was really like an exciting rush.”

“When her feet touched those steps on the way to the stage, those men began to rise,” said Yolanda Thornton, Octavia’s grandmother. “And then they let out this roar, like she’d scored the winning touchdown. My grandbaby had scored the winning touchdown!”

Thornton added that she shared a silent thought with her son-in-law. “I thought, ‘Mark, you gotta be looking down and smiling down on this one.’ ”

In addition to his wife Natasha and step-daughter Octavia, De Alencar is survived by his sons Rodrigo and Marcos, daughter Tatiyana, and , stepson Deshaun.