An Army dad made his son’s graduation day even better by surprising him — and their whole family! — when the teenager received his diploma, having flown home from overseas without letting his loved ones know.
As Tyler Solomon — dressed in a green cap and gown — walked along the football field of Marshfield High School in Massachusetts on Saturday, he was greeted by his principal, Robert Keuther, who gave him his diploma, then a little something extra.
In a video captured by Marshfield Student Broadcasting, Keuther stops Solomon at the podium as an announcer drops some big news.
“Please join us in recognizing U.S. Army Sgt. Damon Solomon, who was granted special leave this weekend from his fifth deployment in Kosovo to celebrate Tyler’s graduation,” the announcer says.
The crowd erupts into applause as Tyler looks across the field to see his father, dressed in uniform, walking toward him. The two then share an emotional embrace in front of Tyler’s 336 classmates as those in attendance cheer on the sweet moment.
Solomon had been serving as a helicopter crew chief in Kosovo since January during his fifth deployment to Eastern Europe, according to ABC News.
Solomon told his son that there was no way he was going to miss the big day, even if he was more than 5,000 miles away.
“I said to him, ‘Do you honestly think that I was going to miss this? There was no way I was going to miss this,’ ” Solomon told ABC.
While Solomon had planned the trip back to the states for more than a month, he also didn’t tell his five other children. According to CBS News, Solomon only shared his plans with his girlfriend, his mother and the high school’s principal. Making the experience even sweeter, the trip gave him six days to be with his family and two days to travel.
Footage of the reunion quickly went viral and garnered more than 1.2 million views and 50,000 likes on Twitter as many commenters said the video had brought them to tears.
Solomon said the reactions of his children were priceless.
“Their reactions were emotional. They’re a lot older now, so the pain is authentic,” he told CBS News. “When they were younger, they didn’t understand the concept of time, but they do now.”
For Tyler, he said the graduation surprise is something he will never forget.
“I was really surprised, shocked and awe,” Tyler told ABC. “It was the best graduation gift I could ever get.”