When Col. Peter Masciola deployed for Afghanistan, he was told he would be stationed there for six months. But then it was extended to a year, which would cause him to miss the holiday season with his family.
However on Monday, Masciola returned a little early for a couple of weeks on leave.
Less than an hour after arriving, he went straight to his 12-year-old daughter Tamarra's school, St. Columbia School in Oxon Hill, to surprise her.
"This is the best week for me of my life basically because I'm getting my braces off tomorrow and my dad's here," Tamarra said. "This Christmas is truly going to be one to remember."
Masciola's 10-year-old son, Kevin, was there a well.
"I'm happy that we are going on a cruise and we are going to have a good Christmas and be together," Kevin said.
The entire school watched the surprise visit, the scale of which shocked even Masciola. His wife, Tamarra Miller, set it all up.
"Seeing it all come together just takes my breath away," Miller said. "We wanted to surprise the children and have them be part of a homecoming they'd never forget."