Having served three tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, Cpl. Esteban Ferrara's service had kept him away from his family until Sunday. Ferrara surprised friends and family while they attended church. He showed up a month early from his tour in Afghanistan.
"I'm very, very happy," said his mother, Mara Ferrara, wiping tears from her eyes. "Thank you God. This is a big surprise."
There was a surprise in store for the serviceman as well. He met and held his 1-month-old daughter for the first time.
"I've been nervous for a lot of things before, and today was probably one of the most nerve-wracking things I've ever been through in my life," Esteban Ferrara said. "I missed my family the whole time I was out there. It feels like a very long time to be without them."
Ferrara will have the next few days off before reporting for duty at the base in Twentynine Palms.