A heartwarming and long-awaited surprise for a family in Moore, Oklahoma: An airman flying home from Turkey for the first time in a year.
This after his wife and daughter went through a rough time — first battling COVID-19, to a terrifyingly close call.
Master Sgt. Gary Verdusco surprised his daughter, Isabella, at her 11th birthday party.
“I had asked her this whole time, ‘What do you want for your birthday, what do you want for your birthday?’ and she’s like, ‘I want you. I want you to be home,'” said Master Sgt. Verdusco.
Verdusco, who serves in the U.S. Air Force, spent the last year in Turkey. Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, his wife, Regina, and Isabella, both battled COVID-19.
Then, a horrible car accident.
“I was actually the most damaged in the car wreck,” said Regina and Isabella.
Isabella and her sister were hospitalized, all while dad was overseas.
“It was pretty emotional because up until this point, I’ve only seen here through FaceTime,” said Master Sgt. Verdusco.
But he kept his big secret for months.
“Even today I texted her happy birthday and I was like, ‘Hey, I’ll call you tonight after your party,'” said Master Sgt. Verdusco.
And Isabella…speechless during the surprise.
“At first, I didn’t recognize him. When I looked and gave him my control, I didn’t see his face, I just saw his shirt so I thought he worked. Then I walked and I was bragging to my friend about how I won, and then she said turn around and I looked at him and then I paused because I was shocked,” said Regina and Isabella.
A light at the end of the tunnel after a hard year.
“It was emotional for all of us,” said Regina and Isabella. “Omg, he’s here. For the first time.”
After all of those hardships this year — Regina says Isabella still maintained her place on the principal’s honor roll at Heritage Trails Elementary in Moore.