Army sergeant surprises family on Memorial Day - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Army sergeant surprises family on Memorial Day

By Stefano DiPietrantonio – bio |email

NEW RICHMOND, OH (FOX19) - FOX19 had the ultimate, local, Memorial day story. An Army father, who had been away in Iraq for a year, made a return home on Monday, Memorial Day, that was a complete surprise to his kids.

The soldier made an around-the-world trip back and just in time for his daughter's softball game.

FOX19 got to help Sergeant John Linville pull-off an incredible surprise for his kids. Reporter Stefano DiPietrantonio suggested the Pierce Township firefighters form a walking "wall" of people and Sergeant Linville crouched behind.

What happened next at the Mount Pisgah ball field can only be described as magical.

It was Sergeant John Linville's personal homecoming parade, complete with cheering friends, lots of shaking hands and then a call to his daughter Katie.

"Hey Katie!," Linville yelled. "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!," his kids cried out as they bolted toward him with arms outstretched, ready for some long-overdue hugs.

Squeals of pure joy from his very own "Fab Four", Katie, Michelle, Gabriel and Hanna, who had no idea their daddy was home from Iraq.

"Oh come here," Linville said as he picked-up his young son. "Daddy!," another child yelled, "It's Monday!," just to make sure he knew what date and time it was. "I know," he calmly replied with a big smile.

Sergeant Linville is full of energy despite being up nearly 24 hours to make the trip home. He can't get-in enough hugs.

"To be honest it's real hard to keep myself together right now," Linville said, choking-up in the emotional moment. It has been a long year away. "It's worth coming home to ya' know?"

Even his son Gabriel, who said, "I'm three," excitedly, as we kneeled down to speak with him, was at a loss for words at seeing his daddy.

"Hmmmm," he cooed, then pointed to his dad. "He's in the Army!"

Close friend Kendra Burton helped get the ball in motion.

"I couldn't imagine not having my dad with me and that was the biggest thing for me," Burton said. "It's great that he came home on Memorial Day, it's great that he's safe, but it's even great Katie has her dad back."

And home just in time for daughter Katie's ball game.

"Your mom really kept it a real secret right? Oh yeah," Katie Linville said. "she (her mom) said he was coming home probably next week."

Katie struck out her first at-bat. "Yeah, doesn't matter today though does it? No."

Okay, maybe it mattered a little bit...

"So hit the b-a-l-l, ball out there!," But that did not stop some fierce chatter from the bat box.

Linville said one of the things he's looking forward to most is just hanging out and spending some normal time with his family and kids."

"Probably go to the zoo, go swimming spend a lot of time with the kids, got about a year to make up," he said.

"I knew he'd be gone for a year but I didn't know if they'd extend it more or less or what was really going on," his wife Heather said. "So this must be like the ultimate Memorial Day present for you, it's wonderful!"

It was a truly thrilling Memorial Day, as we remember not only the men and women who have served our country so greatly, but also celebrate those who are serving right now. And for the Linvilles it was a day they will surely never forget.

FOX19 asked Sergeant Linville, having had a year of the Army mess hall, what foods he missed most? He said a Wendy's cheeseburger and some Gold Star Chili. 

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