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The entire student body at Gregg Anderson Academy in Palmdale, Calif. had gathered on the playground for a school-wide assembly. In the middle of the event, U.S. Air Force Sgt. James Bonner walked to the center of the playground, where his wife and two young sons Marcus and Joseph ran to meet him. The video above shows the family hugging and crying. Throughout the media interview they gave afterward, James Bonner continued to shed tears.
“I had no idea, no!,” said wife Michelle Bonner to KTLA. “I had no idea I was even going to be out here today.” James Bonner had been scheduled to arrive home on Sunday after his six-month tour in Guantanamo Bay, reports KTLA.
It took about two months to plan the surprise, school principal Shelly Dearinger told HuffPost. Dearinger says Bonner reached out to the school with the idea, and together the teachers planned a patriotic event to welcome him home.
To make sure mom was there too, a teacher told Michelle Bonner, who is a frequent volunteer at the school, that they “really needed her today,” according to Dearinger.
“I was telling the teachers that they all looked great and I felt under-dressed,” joked Michelle Bonner in the video above.
“It was a really tender moment because the kids were so shocked, and so was his wife,” Dearinger said to HuffPost. “It was very exiting.”