Lance Daigle, a sergeant in the Air Force, was supposed to come home from deployment in Kuwait on May 2.
At least that’s what the itinerary he sent to his three children showed. But the photo-shopped document did not tell the whole story. Daigle, who has spent 19 years in the military, planned to surprise his two youngest children – Karley, 13, and Cameron, 11 – at a Carolina Mudcats baseball game Wednesday night.
His oldest son, Bailey, was in San Antonio for college.
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Daigle of Goldsboro told his children that he won VIP passes for them to throw out the first pitch and meet the players.
As Daigle made the 19-hour trip from Kuwait, he was excited and nervous. He hadn’t seen them in six months.
“I was just hoping and praying that I’d get home in time,” he said.
Fortunately for Daigle there weren’t any delays in his return to Raleigh from his fourth and likely last deployment.
A big surprise
When Cameron and Karley got to the mound, Karley threw the first pitch. Then Cameron.
As shown in a video taken at the game, the catcher walked toward the mound to give them the ball. He faced the two children, and bent down to take off his mask.
But when the catcher looked up, they realized it wasn’t a Mudcats player. It was their dad.
Cameron and Karley, wide-eyed, both began to cry.
“Dad!” Cameron said. They hugged their father, and held on tight.
“It was awesome to see the reaction in their faces,” Daigle said. “Every now and then you get to Facetime, but it’s not the same as getting to hold them. I can’t even imagine my life without them.”
Neither Cameron, nor Karley suspected a thing. Karley did think it was strange that the catcher was wearing bright orange tennis shoes instead of baseball cleats. But it happened so fast, she said.
“We were super surprised because he photo-shopped his ticket and we thought he was showing up next week,” Cameron said. “Whenever he took off the catchers mask I was like ‘oh my gosh it’s my dad he came back early.’ ”
Karley said the same.
“I just started crying because I was so happy,” she said.
When asked where it ranked among her happiest moments, she said: “This will be the best surprise ever.”