It’s a scene that never gets old: military members arriving home on leave to surprise family members. One recent example, however, had a touching twist: a father making it home in time to see his eldest son’s traditional rite of passage.
On Saturday, Tyler Solomon graduated from Marshfield High School in Marshfield, Massachusetts, just south of Boston. It started as a bittersweet day for Tyler, as he believed his father Damon was on an Army deployment in Kosovo, where he serves as a flight crew chief for Black Hawk helicopters. Sgt. Solomon has served in the Army for nearly twenty years, serving across the globe and often missing from important family events stateside.
Saturday, however, was different.
Tyler had spoken to his father days before via Skype and believed he was unable to make it home to see him graduate. Damon, however had a surprise up his sleeve: he had been given special leave to get home in time for graduation.
“[My dad] had messaged me on Facebook earlier in the week and said how he was really upset that he couldn’t make it and that he wouldn’t miss anything else again,” Tyler said. “I told him no big deal. It’s just another day. I had no idea that this was going to happen.”
The emotional reunion of father and son was captured on a video that was posted on social media by Marshfield Student Broadcasting Saturday evening. It quickly went viral and has been viewed more than 500,000 times.
In the video, the school principal can be seen shaking Tyler’s hand as he handed him his diploma — and then briefly keeping him onstage. The teen looked momentarily confused. Then he heard someone announce his father’s name over the microphone and saw a familiar figure in fatigues striding toward him.
“I turned and see him, and I start bawling my eyes out,” Tyler said. “I was amazed he came all the way from Kosovo just to see me graduate. I was just extremely touched.”
The graduate and the soldier embraced on the high school football field to a standing ovation from the crowd.
“Did you really think I’d miss this?” his father asked.
Things haven’t always been easy for the family, as Damon is a single father and his children live with their grandparents while he is deployed.
Tyler was born when Damon Solomon was himself a senior in high school. The soldier left a few months later for basic training, joining the service to better himself, learn to fly, and be a role model for his son, he said in an interview.
But he also had to miss a lot of milestones, like Tyler’s first steps. He refused to miss his graduation.
“It was a well-needed hug,” Damon said. “My oldest child had to deal with me being gone the most. That one hug was a means for us to reconnect and make up for that lost time.”
The National Guardsman will head back to Kosovo Wednesday, but expects this to be his last deployment. He hopes to return to his day job as a firefighter in East Providence, R.I., and to make new memories with his children and his girlfriend.
Here is edited video of the soldier homecoming reunion, posted online by Unilad.
This high school student's father, a U.S. Army seargent, surprised him during his graduation 👏
Posted by UNILAD on Monday, June 4, 2018
Tyler is planning to study psychology at Bridgewater State University in the fall.
He hopes the video makes people appreciate the many sacrifices that veterans make for the country every day.
“They put their life on the line for us,” Tyler said. “And I feel like a lot of people who don’t have relatives that are veterans don’t really understand what the family and the veterans go through.”
Here is the full video posted by Marshfield High School.
Marshfield High School graduate Tyler Solomon is stunned as he receives his diploma and is reunited with his father (Army Sgt. Damon Solomon), who made a surprise return trip from a year-long deployment overseas. The entire Solomon family had no idea he would be there until he appeared on the field.
Posted by Marshfield Student Broadcasting on Saturday, June 2, 2018
While Damon is returning to service this week, the memories they created will last a lifetime.
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