Watching parents reunite with their kids after returning from deployment will genuinely never get old. When the kids know it’s coming, their over-the-top excitement as they embrace their parents is heartwarming. But when parents manage to surprise their unsuspecting kids, reunions become unforgettable moments for everyone involved.
After a year-long deployment, Major Fred Grooms Jr. finally got to return home to his family. But Grooms’s son, Fred Grooms III, had no idea what was in store for him during a seemingly typical football game. As the 9th grader walked onto the field and sized up his competition, the team was given an unusual set of instructions.
“I was kind of weirded out,” Fred Grooms III told NBC News. “The fact that they told me to look at every single one of the refs and memorize their face.”
Grooms III hesitantly obliged, and almost immediately, the purpose of the bizarre directions became abundantly clear. Standing across from him in full-ref attire was his dad, who the high school student hadn’t seen in nearly a year. In a brief moment of shock, father and son reach out as if they’re about to shake hands. They simultaneously seem to realize the absurdity of a simple handshake, choosing instead to pull each other into a long-awaited embrace.
“Watching him walk up unaware was really exciting, but then also kind of nerve-wracking because I hadn’t seen him in almost a year,” Major Fred Grooms Jr. recalled. “When I left he was three inches shorter than me, and when I came back he was two inches taller than me.”
Up until this year, Major Grooms Jr. had attended every sporting event and significant milestone in his son’s life. Because of his deployment, the proud dad had yet to see his son play in a high school game. His commander knew how important it was for Grooms Jr. to be front and center, cheering for his son. Instead of returning home in November as planned, Major Grooms Jr.’s commander allowed him to leave in mid-October to fulfill his other extremely important duty – being a dad.