U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Terry completed the mission of a lifetime Monday afternoon. He surprised his three children, after returning home from a six month deployment.
Lunchtime at Everitt Middle School began with a tearful reunion.
The middle school students piled into the lunchroom around 1:00, including Eighth Grader McKenzie Terry. Teachers told the students they would rewarding them with drawings for prizes.
"Let's go ahead and get started with the drawing. Let's get someone, McKenzie Terry. She's an exemplary eagle," announced a teacher.
With cheers and applause, McKenzie made her way to the front of the lunchroom. Little did she know, her prize would actually become the surprise of a lifetime.
McKenzie's father then came out of the door behind her holding balloons and flowers.
"I came up, and they said Jonathan, and I still had no clue and then I turned around and he was right there. I said oh my gosh and started crying," said McKenzie.
With help from his wife, teachers, and guidance councilors, he wanted to surprise his children in a big way.
First, Terry surprised his daughter Jayden and son Chase at Tyndall Elementary School. Then, over to Everitt, where the family was reunited with McKenzie before an entire room of screams, cheers, and applause.
"My wife was very, she's like no hinting, no nothing so when we were talking on Skype yesterday, we tried to keep the same schedule as much as possible," said Terry.
Terry was deployed to Afghanistan in March as a Deputy Senior Contracting Official.
"We had a great group in Afghanistan, doing great things to try and help the men and women build that country up," said Terry.
He and his children were separated by thousands of miles and a more than 8 hour time difference. They relied on Skype, E-mail, and letters for communication.
"It felt weird with him not being there, but we still Skyped and called a lot," said McKenzie.
Terry said he's excited just to spend time with his children, although they'll likely play a lot of sports. As for the kids, they're happy to have one of their biggest fans home.