An eight-year-old girl got a wholesome surprise during a summer camp game of Simon Says as she lifted her head to see her military dad, who had just returned home from deployment after months overseas.
Mia Holland, 8, was not expecting her father, Lane, to be home until the new school year, but after a change of plans, Lane decided to surprise his daughter at summer camp instead.
Lane, a staff sergeant with the United States Army, had previously been deployed in Kuwait, where he called his daughter every day for 268 days.
But after a family emergency meant Lane needed to return home early, he decided to think of a quick way to surprise his daughter, as his original plan was to surprise her in school months later.
To make the surprise work, Lane called Mia from his living room for three days, keeping up the facade that he was still overseas.
Then, knowing she was headed to a summer camp overseen by the City of Burleson in Texas, Lane planned his big surprise.
With Mia and the other children playing a game of Simon Says, Lane snuck in, giving out orders and slowly approaching his daughter.
When Simon gave the order for Mia to lift her head, she saw a familiar face looking back at her before giving her father an emotional hug.
The moment was a special one for Lane, as it would be the last time he returned from deployment before his retirement.
He has served in the military for 15 years, and after 20 years, he plans to retire.
Due to the rotation of stints overseas, Lane went on deployment when Mia was six months old, and the latest one, his second, would be his last.
By serving out his time, Lane will also get military benefits, which will support Mia when she is older.
The surprise was later shared on the Burleson Parks and Rec. social media pages.
Lane said: “When I saw my daughter’s eyes, that’s when I felt a huge relief and a rush of emotions come over me.
“I wanted to cry, but here I am, a soldier, in uniform, so I can’t cry!
“I knew right then she was safe, and things were going to be better.
“I had some guilt for leaving my battle buddies, but that went away instantly when she looked at me, smiled and said ‘Daddy.’
“There is no better relationship than a father and his daughter.
“The love between a father and daughter is on a different level, it’s unconditional and until I had my daughter, I never knew it existed.”