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'I couldn't believe it': TikTok captures emotional promotion for Virginia battalion chief

(Photo: Alexandria Fire Department)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WJLA) — Battalion Chief Samuel Reyes was stunned when he heard a familiar voice coming through his Alexandria Fire Department radio.

"Hi dad, it's Nicholle," the voice said before listing all the other people in the room. "It is my honor to announce your promotion to battalion chief."

After 20 years serving Alexandria, Chief Reyes became the first Hispanic battalion chief in the department's history. The familiar voice delivering the amazing news was his own daughter.

Nicholle Reyes is a 911 dispatcher for Fairfax County; she's in uniform herself as she makes the special call, all caught on a TikTok that has nearly a million views on the social media app.

When Chief Reyes heard his daughter's voice announcing the promotion he worked so hard for, he lost it.

"When it's your own child taking part in something special that happens to you and your career ... It really does make it that much more special," he told WJLA Saturday during a phone call. "And even proud as a parent, it was a very proud moment for me, the fact that she got to take part in this -- it just took it over the top."

The department planned the surprise with his daughter and family, who were all there to join in on the joyous occasion. His niece Kathy recorded the entire thing, following the throng of people as they found him in tears.

The entire family got to present him with his official badge.

The honor itself is impactful, but so are the people enjoying the moment second-hand. Chief Reyes told WJLA his family is more excited about that part of the news.

"I wasn't expecting this to be on TikTok, my family [members are] the ones who do social media, but they are the ones who are just -- they're going bonkers, especially my niece who made the video and posted it."

For him, it's confusing why so many people enjoyed the video - he described the reaction as "dumbfounding." The majority of his family is in his native Puerto Rico, and he said that adds to the excitement - sharing it across generations.

"They all have this big group chat going on, they're going nuts."

Chief Reyes has a special place in his heart for the department itself and the people in it that went out of their way to coordinate what is now an amazing memory.

"It was a very special moment I'll never forget."

And neither will a million sets of eyes on social media.