From the time Army Specialist Seth Howard first joined the military, he’s wanted to come home from a deployment and surprise his loved ones. So when the chance came up, he couldn’t wait to see his wife and kids.
After spending 11 months deployed in Jordan, the guardsman returned home to Ohio on his 27th birthday. It was a big day for him: Not only did he meet his infant son, Declan, for the first time (Howard left for Jordan when his wife, Shannon, was still pregnant), but he also surprised his 3-year-old twins, Riley and Liam, during a planned celebration at their school.
“I was so excited. I was shaking I was so nervous,” he told ABC News. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do since I got in the military. I was going to walk into the classroom, but the academy took it upon themselves to make a big, big deal about it. It was so awesome. It was even better than I could imagine.”
The moment he entered the gym where Riley and Liam sat unknowingly awaiting him, the twins ran up and enveloped in him in a big hug. The emotional reunion, which was captured on camera by Chelsie Casagrande of Big House Photography LLC, has since garnered hundreds of thousands of views on Facebook.
His wife, Shannon Howard, is a teacher at the school. She said her coworkers and students were “so amazing and so loving” to help put the elaborate surprise together. “They’ve really gone on this journey with me since August,” she said. “I’ve been very transparent with them about this, in case I’m ever a little testy one day. I remember when I told my freshman class that my husband was back in the U.S. they all stood up and started cheering.”