A six-year-old girl received a surprise when she awoke from her nap in the back of her mom’s car to discover her soldier dad had returned home from deployment.
Viewers on social media joked that young Amelia Hornback was “buffering” as her father, Zachary, a staff sergeant with the U.S. Army, removed her headphones and she slowly came to.
Zachary, 29, whose family live in Savannah, Georgia, had not seen Amelia for four months before the surprise took place on May 22.
The staff sergeant had been deployed to Kosovo in February 2022, which saw him return to base in Washington State in November of that year.
During the time, Zachary got to experience some time with his family, but after a tragic house fire killed five of the family’s closest friends, Zacharys’ wife, Chelsea, 32, moved with their kids to Savannah while Zachary remained in Washington on his Army contract.
When the day of the big reunion finally came, Amelia had her kindergarten graduation – after which she fell asleep in the family’s car while Chelsea drove home.
There, Zachary was waiting, but for 30 minutes Amelia did not wake while Chelsea unloaded the car and worked on a few things around the house.
Eventually, Zachary headed to the back seat, where he removed Amelia’s headset and attempted to softly coax his daughter, a heavy sleeper, from her slumber.
The 29-year-old then opted to slowly carry his daughter inside, which saw her wake up and her disgruntled face turn from confusion to joy.
Chelsea said: “Reunions are always emotional.
“We as a family are very accustomed to military life and having to adjust to being apart for various lengths of time, with me serving eight years and Zachary serving nine.
“Zachary is an amazing father and is deeply missed when we are apart.
“Since birth, Amelia has always had a very strong bond with her dad.
“She hangs on his every word and no one else exists when he is around.
“Though, seeing them reunited this time was extra special and emotional because this signified the last time they will have to be apart due to the Army.
“Again, it has been emotional for everyone that knows our story and what we have been through recently.
“Everyone is happy to see us start this new adventure together.”