FORT HOOD, Texas: Staff Sergeant Matthew Sanford held his four children for the first time in over eight months today when he surprised them at their schools Friday.
The surprise was an emotional one, but the anticipation had been building up already for Sanford.
“I basically couldn’t sleep last night, you know, the adrenaline was pumping, I was really excited to see them and to see their faces again,” Sanford said. “Even though I was able to FaceTime with them and stuff like that, it’s still not the same as being able to be here and hug them.”
He went to Audie Murphy Middle School first to surprise his oldest daughter Natalie, who turns 12 Monday. The other three children were at Meadows Elementary, and some found what they saw hard to believe.
“I kinda thought it was a joke,” Sanford’s daughter, Kourtnie, said. “But when I realized it wasn’t I started yelling because I was really happy to see him again.”
Sanford and his wife, Caren, have been married for 13 years and have endured five deployments together. Caren Sanford said her husband’s most recent deployment in Korea felt like the longest.
Caren Sanford gave her son’s teacher a bouquet of flowers to thank her for helping set up the surprise and supporting the family during the deployment.
With their father back home, the family plans to make up for lost time. When I asked the children what they’re looking forward to, Sanford’s son Lucas kept it simple by saying, “have some fun.”