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Soldier Surprises Family With Early Return Home

December 24, 2013, 9:55 PM by Jared Ransom

Soldier Surprises Family With Early Return Home
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

The Stengrim family thought nothing of being called to the front of the church, but little did they know they were about to experience the biggest surprise of all.

"The best Christmas present ever. He's home, he's with us, he's safe," Stacie Stengrim said.

Tom Stengrim was stationed in Afghanistan and, as far as everyone else knew, he was coming home in a few weeks.

After some careful planning and with a pre-taped holiday greeting from Afghanistan sent to the church, he decided to make his return just in time for the holidays.

"A lot of anticipation, even more so than our wedding day. The butterflies were there and just knowing how happy this was going to make them, and trying to keep this surprise bottled up for a couple of months," Tom said.

He arrived home the night before so he could beat the weather and ensure his plan's success.

"Once I saw that video, I heard the footsteps of my dad coming, and right when I turned around I saw him and I yelled 'Dad!'" Matthew Stengrim said.

"She's not a big fan of surprises, so we had to keep it under wraps. All the friends that were involved were happy to do that, and it was a lot of fun," Tom said.

In the wake of all this happiness, they all know what kind of sacrifice each military family is making.

"I feel very fortunate because there's a lot of families out there that still have their loved ones over in Afghanistan or other parts of the country, serving our country," Stacie said.

"Watching and listening to Stacie. She's trying to run back and forth and get them to practices and all the school events and basically be a single mom while I'm away," Tom said.

All the Stengrim family wanted was to be together again, and now they all will get exactly what they wanted for Christmas.

"I just want to be with him, do some fun things, father and son stuff. Be with him, care about him, and he's my best dad that I ever had," Matthew said.

Stacie had volunteered to host Christmas at their home this year, having no idea that Tom would be home to experience it. Now, it just seems like perfect planning.

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