A local soldier who was overseas for nearly a year is home. On Wednesday, he surprised his stepchildren at school.
Students filed into the gymnasium at Saint Joseph School in Mechanicsburg, thinking they were there for a regular assembly.
Kayla and Karson Youch were told they were chosen at random to win a prize. It was not random, but they got an even better prize. After 11 months, they finally got to hug their stepdad, Specialist Jeremy Swords.
"I feel like this is a dream," Karson told his stepdad.
"It's not a dream," Swords assured him.
"It was like the happiest moment of my life," said Kayla Youch. "I'm just happy he's back home."
"My legs were shaking unbelievably, and I was just trying to let them calm down a little bit. I knew they were emotional. It was making me - I got emotional, and that doesn't happen very often," Swords said.
Swords was deployed to Afghanistan with the 333rd Engineering Company. abc27 News was there as the soldiers stepped off the plane at Harrisburg International Airport. Swords's wife was there to greet him, but they kept the homecoming a secret from the kids.
"They knew he was at Fort Bliss in Texas, but I just kept saying: 'I don't know. They don't have a date yet. It's probably two or three more weeks," Elizabeth Swords said.
Now Swords is finally home, and he gave the surprise of a lifetime.
"It was the happiest moment of my life. I'm happy he's home," Karson said.
"I'm proud of him that he served our country, keeping us free," said Kayla.
Now that the family is together again, they said they're looking forward to spending quality time together, especially at the kids' games.