Families of deployed soldiers sacrifice a lot for the country, which makes welcoming home their loved ones that much sweeter. One North Carolina Marine and his family know this firsthand.
Lt. Col. Philip Eilertson is home from his fifth deployment to Afghanistan and said he feels blessed by God to be able to come home. His children -- Grace, Brent, and Faith -- haven't seen him in nine months.
But that changed when he surprised them at his son's football awards ceremony.
"My kids think I'm coming home in about two weeks for a two-week R and R and then back to Afghanistan. But instead I'm coming home to stay," Eilertson said, smiling ear to ear.
His wife, Paige, arranged the event.
"I'm just so proud of my husband and my kids. They are my heroes. It's hard having your husband and your daddy gone for so long," she said.
After he surprised the kids, they gathered around him for a family hug. Eilertson said he's thankful to be home just in time for the holidays.
"It's just a blessing from God to be able to come home and surprise them and be with them," Eilertson said. "We are a family again and that's the important thing."