A National Guard soldier dressed up in a school mascot costume and crashed his own sons’ school assembly in Rockland, Massachusetts, posing for a group photo before taking off the mask to reveal his surprise.
Sgt. Michael Leone, of the 181st Infantry Regiment of the Massachusetts Army National Guard, hadn't seen his three children since he deployed to the Djibouti-Somalia border in February.
Tyler, 8, Tolan, 6, and Nathan, 5, attended a Friday afternoon assembly at Esten Elementary School, where they received awards. The school district’s bulldog mascot was also on hand to take a photo with them.
The idea, Principal Marilyn Smith explained, was to send the photo to their dad overseas.
But she left out one big detail.
The boys’ dad wasn’t in Africa. He wasn’t even overseas.
He was in the building. He was in the room. In fact, he was in the photo with them.
After taking the photo, Leone removed the mascot’s head, leaving his children stunned.
“It’s a memory that I know I’ll always have," Leone said, "and they will, too.”