It was a reunion that many military families can relate to. When a father who had been stationed in Iraq got a two-week break, he decided to spend that time surprising his kids in a very touching way. His effort to make a special reunion for his family might make you feel just as emotional as his child.

During lunch, 11-year-old Gabriel was asked to stand up.The sixth-grader was having a normal lunch one day without another thought in the world. That is, until an announcement came over the loudspeaker asking him to stand up in front of everyone. There was no further explanation, until he stood up and had everyone’s attention.

What Gabriel heard next was something he hadn’t expected at all. The loudspeaker announced that his dad, Navy Senior Chief Michael Forjan, was not only home, but was in the back of the cafeteria waiting to greet his son.

Gabriel hadn’t been expecting this at all, and his reaction showed it.

Without a hesitation, he ran to the back of the cafeteria, and jumped into his waiting father’s arms. Because of his happiness, Gabriel was crying, but all the onlookers in the cafeteria were cheering him on and erupting with happiness. It had been six months since Gabriel and his father had seen each other, and it was overwhelming to get surprised in this way.

It was the fourth reunion that day.
Gabriel has three siblings, so they all got their chance to have a beautiful surprise at their respective schools. Before swinging by Gabriel’s middle school, his dad went to the local high school and elementary schools to say hello to his other children, Christian, Logan, and Adrianna.

Each child had a similar reaction and ran into his arms with excitement. It was emotional for everyone who witnessed the scene. Their mother was also present to watch the whole thing unfold and even though she was in on the plan, it got her feeling emotional as well. She told WPBF:

“It was beautiful. I couldn’t be more happy to see them as happy as they were.”

This reunion wasn’t supposed to happen at all.

Navy Senior Chief Michael Forjan had been deployed in Iraq. It’s difficult for families to be separated for as long as a typical deployment lasts, but the kids thought that it would be long months until they saw him again. But when Forjan got a special two-week break in his deployment, he immediately knew what he wanted to do. After surprising his kids, they would all get to spend 2 great weeks together before he would have to go back to Iraq.

Gabriel’s parents put in a lot of work to keep this surprise a secret.

And they did a pretty good job of it too! So much so, that Michael Forjan had been in their home for a considerable amount of time before the big surprise. He had actually gotten home on Monday night and had stayed in the house all night into the morning before greeting his kids on Tuesday. While the kids were sleeping and heading out to school, their dad was in their house and they had no idea.

While the kids are grateful for their dad, he’s returning the appreciation.

Navy Senior Chief Forjan knows how hard his deployment is on his family. He also knows that military families have a special role in holding things down while their loved one is overseas. He tells ABC25:

“When people say ‘Thank you for your service,’ I say, ‘No, thank my family, because I wouldn’t be able to do it if it wasn’t for them.’”