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It's 2:20 p.m. and "Operation Daddy" is on—Sgt. Gary Helms is about to surprise his two sons at school with a homecoming they won't ever forget, as Fox 40 News reports.
Teachers, students and parents clapped as little Landon and Skyler ran into their father's arms, unaware that he was waiting for them outside of their elementary school. The plan was orchestrated by mom Tiffany Helms with the help of her son's principal.
"You always see it on the news and on YouTube and Facebook—you know—the surprises and homecomings," Tiffany Helms said. "And I thought that was something these kids can carry with them forever."
Just a few hours before, Helms surprised his daughter, Kaili, at her middle school.
"They said his name and I basically just jumped up out of my seat," Kaili said.
The timing was extra special for Landon, who will be celebrating his birthday soon.
"I thought he would never come back, but until today I found out he would," Landon said.
Helms has a few more months at Fort Bragg until he is home permanently. Then there won't have to be anymore homecoming surprises. Tiffany Helms admitted that she's shocked she could keep the secret that her husband would visit their children's schools, and that it worked out so well.
"They prayed every night that their daddy would come home," Tiffany Helms said. "To see their faces and the tears that run down their faces—it was special for me."
The principal of the boys' elementary school, David Kindred, said it was an honor to help plan the special day.
"Of course we want to support our military and be able to highlight things like this, so it worked out perfectly," he said.