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Ohio military family reunited after year-long deployment

Army Specialist Seth Howard surprised his 3-year-old twins and 18-month-old after returning home from a nearly year-long deployment (WSYX/WTTE)

It is a joyful moment that you will only see on ABC6/FOX 28. A soldier returned home and gave his kids an unforgettable surprise at their school Thursday morning. Army Specialist Seth Howard was deployed to Jordan nearly a year ago and a lot has changed in his family including a new baby.

More than 300 soldiers from the 1st battalion of the 148th infantry regiment with the Ohio National Guard were welcomed home after a training mission in Jordan. They came home Wednesday night.

The next morning, Howard wanted to surprise his twins, 3-year-old Riley and Liam Howard at their school, Gahanna Christian Academy.

"It's been a long 11 months,” said the soldier, SPC Seth Howard. “6-months ago when my youngest was born I never thought this day was going to come."

His wife was left behind with family to take care of their 4 children, all under 4 years old.

"It was not anything I could imagine,” said the soldier’s wife, Shannon Howard. “I was pregnant when he left and that was the hardest part."

Their children’s school decorated the gym to welcome the soldier home. The twins had no idea clue daddy was coming to surprise them, even giving dad the jitter bugs.

“I’m like shaking I’m so nervous right now,” he said as he waited to walk into the gym filled with the entire school and his children. “I'm just excited to see them."

We were the only station there to capture the emotional reunion. We saw 3-year old Riley run into daddy's arms.

"Hi sweetie! I missed you,” said Howard as he hugged all of his children in the middle of the children. "This was a complete surprise today! Because I'm not this type of a person, I thought I was going to walk in their classroom and surprise them but this was awesome! I'm very blessed!"

Home, just in time for the holidays. Today also marks a very special day for the soldier, it’s his birthday! He turned 27 years old. As for what’s next for Specialist Howard, he told us he will be done with his 6-year contract with the Ohio National Guard next summer. He said he will be back to work in a few months as a deputy sheriff with the Ashland County's Sheriff's Office.

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