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Airman's Surprise Homecoming
RIVERSIDE -- It was a heartwarming reunion Monday night as a hero returns home, just in time for the holidays.
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nick Ketchum has been deployed in Afghanistan for nine months. He wasn't supposed to return home until March. But his children found out his tour overseas was cut short.
When Mad River Middle School cheerleader Peige Ketchum took to the floor for her squad's halftime performance Monday, the seventh grader was only expecting applause from the audience. But her attention to the crowd soon took a backseat when her dad, Sgt. Nick Ketchum, walked into the gym.
"I can't believe he's home. I didn't think he was getting back until March," she said.
"Absolutely, the best Christmas present," Sgt. Ketchum added.
Ketchum's wife, Tiffany, had to keep the news a secret from their four kids for the last two weeks. The three youngest were surprised at school earlier in the day.
"They all just ran and jumped into his arms. It was perfect," said Tiffany.
When Peige reunited with her dad, tears of joy were streaming down her cheeks as she clung to her dad's neck. She was happy her hero was home.
"It was way more than I expected and her reaction was way more than expected also," Sgt. Ketchum said.
"When she leaped into his arms and I looked and saw the crowd standing and clapping, I couldn't help but cry. It was precious," said his wife, Tiffany.
The surprises aren't over yet. The Ketchum's are going to spend the next few days in Indiana visiting the rest of their family.
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