Nothing is sweeter than seeing a soldier or sailor reunited with their family after a long deployment overseas. Embracing each other for the first time can often be a very intimate moment for these families, and one that some service members plan well in advance, making sure to give their loved ones a giant and welcome surprise.
In many cases, it's the first time the entire family has been together in months, perhaps even years. We've rounded up the best surprise military homecomings caught on camera in 2012.
When Josh Ricafrente, a gunnery sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, walked out onto the Dowdy-Fricklen football field during the Nov. 3 East Carolina University game after his latest deployment to Afghanistan, he gave his sons, ten-year-old Noah and eight-year-old Elijah, the surprise of their lives.
Navy Reservist Justin Whyte, 33, of Wichita, Kan., dressed up as Darth Vader to surprise his 5-year-old son for his "Star Wars"-themed birthday party after an intense light saber battle.
Staff Sgt. Joshua Durrer, 31, of Glendale, Ariz., surprised his kids by popping out of a Christmas present delivered by Santa.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Scott Faile returned from South Korea, after completing his third tour of duty, to surprise his family on the South Carolina Gamecock's football field. At a pregame ceremony they were honored as the Columbia Metropolitan Airport's "Military Family of the Game."
A "Christmas miracle" came true on "Good Morning America" Dec. 14 when U.S. Army Capt. Gerardo Garcia was reunited with his family, live on the air, after nearly a year away in Afghanistan.