BURBANK, Calif. (KABC) -- A family whose father is serving in Afghanistan decided to head to the airport and welcome other soldiers who came home for Christmas.
Bree Nelson and her three children said it was a way to thank the soldiers.
"We're waiting for the opportunity to welcome him home and in the meantime we want to thank these gentlemen for their service," she said.
But the children were given the best present of all when their father walked through the airport terminal and into their arms.
U.S. Army Reserve 1st Lt. Kenya Nelson has been deployed in Afghanistan since February, but his commanding officer saw to it that he made it home for Christmas.
"I thank my commander...he really pushed and pushed. We did what we had to do there to get home on time," he said.
Nelson hadn't seen his children in nearly a year. His kids, 16-year-old Savion, 13-year-old Ajani, and his youngest, 9-year-old Kadir, greeted their father with long hugs and tears in their eyes.
"It's tough when you're 7,000 miles away and you just hope you left enough of yourself to support her," he said.
His wife made sure to keep this a surprise for her children.
"It was really hard. I was sure I had slipped up several times, but they were completely surprised. They had no clue," she said. "I couldn't ask for anything else. I got everything I want right here in this green package."
In the end, the Nelson's did exactly what they had set out to do: welcome home a soldier. Lucky for them, it turned out to be a member of their own family.
"It is the best Christmas ever," Kenya Nelson said.
Soldier comes home for Christmas, surprises family
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