KASSON — The Huso brothers got the best kind of present on Tuesday afternoon: their father.
Just Like Home School Age Child Care held a celebration for Aidric, 6, and Liam, 8, who had no idea that their father was returning home early to surprise them.
Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Nick Huso, 34, of Kasson had been serving a 13-month deployment in Djibouti, Africa with the U.S. Navy. For months, he and his family lived apart while being connected through FaceTime conversations, according to Nick’s wife, Holly, 34.
“It was hard,” the 2001 Kasson-Mantorville alumna said. “The boys were busy now that they’re older and we kept trying to keep Dad informed about everything. For this deployment, FaceTime was a lifesaver. The communication was so much better.”
Nick, a 2001 Triton High School graduate and Dodge Center native, had been serving with the military for 16 years, having been deployed four times to places such as Afghanistan and Iraq. He spent six years in active duty, and a decade in reserves.
When Holly heard that her husband would be coming home earlier than anticipated, she struggled to keep the big surprise from Aidric and Liam. However, she managed to maintain the secret until the moment was right.
“I looked at them when they went to bed, and thought ‘life is going to change for them again,'” she said, ” ‘but this time for the better.'”
Earlier in the day, Kasson-Mantorville Middle School students helped put together decorations for the homecoming festivities with a patriotic theme while employees set patriotic cupcakes out on the counters for the children.
The volunteers motioned to the children to gather outside in the backyard to pose for a group photo to send to Nick with homemade signs welcoming him back to Kasson. Unbeknownst to the Huso brothers, their biggest surprise was coming for them.
Nick and Holly arrived in Kasson at around 3:55 p.m. and parked away from the daycare center. They snuck across the street in order to remain unseen until the timing was right.
When the children began to sing and wave their little American flags, Nick and Holly walked through the day care center before exiting out into the backyard. The children watched as Nick slowly approached the group dressed in his uniform.
Among his friends in the crowd, Liam’s expression on his face slowly evolved from confusion into pure excitement. He broke through the group and raced across the grass and leaped into Nick’s arms. Aidric took a few seconds longer before realizing that his father returned home. He then sprinted to join his brother, the three sharing a long hug. The homecoming brought cheers from the children and adults who celebrated this long-awaited return.
“I was overjoyed,” Nick shared after the reunion. “The reality finally set in that I’m back. This completes the circle, and it’s so hard to put into words.”
With their dad back for good, the Huso family would be spending the rest of the evening playing hockey and going up to the science museum for MEA weekend. A family separated by thousands of miles, were back together again.
Aidric and Liam shared that they were “so happy that Dad was home.”
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