HARKER HEIGHTS — Chief Warrant Officer 2 David and Heather Johnson’s three children thought Tuesday was going to be like any other day.

Little did Caleb, 8, Ethan, 3, and Ayden, 1, know that when their mother checked them into the day care at Heritage Park Fitness that there was someone hiding in the playground area who really missed them — their father.

David Johnson, of 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, surprised his children after a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan.

“The joy on their faces is one of those moments that you will remember forever,” he said, adding this homecoming marked the end of his fourth deployment. “It gets harder every time.”

David Johnson came into the gym and literally swept his wife off her feet. The couple had tears of joy flowing while others watched.

There was not a dry eye in the gym that morning.

“This homecoming is something that I have looked forward to since the day that I left,” he said. “When you leave, you feel like a piece of you is gone the entire time that you are away. When you return, you feel complete again.”

Even though she knew her husband was coming home and the surprise reunion was planned, Heather Johnson was almost speechless as she watched her husband walk into the gym for the first time since they parted in January.

After the couple reunited, David Johnson hid in the playground area behind the day care center.

His three boys rounded the corner dressed in matching T-shirts that read “My daddy is my Superhero, I love you,” and the oldest was holding up a sign that read, “Our daddy is our Super hero. We love you!”

When they saw their dad come from around the building their faces lit up.

The two older boys ran to their dad, while the youngest one was trying to catch up to get in on the action.

“I am glad that you’re going to be here for my birthday and for school,” Caleb said. “I was surprised to see my dad. I did not think he was going to be coming home today. I am ready to go home and play video games with my dad. We got a lot of catching up to do.”

Twila Hill is a Herald correspondent.

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