Cmdr. Anthony Smith surprises family after year-long deployment

FAIRFAX, Va. (WJLA) - Friday's awards ceremony at Fairfax County's Merritt Academy started off routine, but by the end, it was anything but.

As Anthony and Joshua Smith were being recognized for their strength and hard work during their father's year-long deployment, they got an early Christmas gift.

During the ceremony, Cmdr. Anthony Smith, who had been serving in Djibouti since January, got ready to step in.

"I think I'm trying to keep myself emotionally stable," Cmdr. Smith said as he prepared to see his wife and sons for the first time since this past summer.

It was Anthony, the older of the two brothers, who first realized that their father was home.

"I'm just really happy he's here right now," he said. "(It's) the greatest Christmas gift ever."

It took 26 hours and four layovers to get back to Virginia, and for a time, Smith{ } didn’t know whether or not he'd spend Christmas Day with his family. He's been granted leave, though, before having to return to Norfolk to formally end his deployment.

"My heart just leaped - it just almost stopped beating," his wife, Janeifer, said. "It was just beautiful. It was just really, really beautiful."