CASTLE ROCK, Colo. -- The teachers at a Castle Rock elementary school kept a big secret from their students Wednesday.
But the truth is out now.
And it meant the world to two students and their Air Force reservist father.
The kids’ dad just arrived from Qatar Wednesday morning. And his first stop was at Sage Canyon Elementary at 2420 Autumn Sage St.
His kids didn't know he had arrived home.
And they learned the good news along with everybody else at the school.
The kids gather at a school assembly to find out the winner of a gift box.
"If I call your name, I want you to come up to the front," says Carrie Stephenson, the school’s principal.
She calls up an excited Colton Rose, a third-grader, and his sister Oakleigh, a first-grader. Their little sister, Sophia, 3, joins them.
"I just can't wait to see my kids’ reaction. I can't wait," says the children’s mom, Sheryl.
They tear open the present and find a gift much bigger gift than they ever imagined.
"Daddy!" yells Colton, as his dad pops out from inside the big box.
Lt. Col. Herb Rose, an intelligence officer, just got home after an eight-month mission in Qatar.
His wife is emotional.
"I just saw him four hours ago after eight months. And I'm just so glad he's home. I'm sorry. I'm so excited for my kids. It's been a long eight months," she says through tears.
"They (the kids) were equally excited, probably a little shocked--like I expected. I think it is still soaking in," says Lt. Col. Rose.
The crowd of 653 kids also excited for their friends who hadn't seen their dad in person for more than 200 days.
But Skype eased their separation.
"It kind of helped, I think. Obviously, it helped. They remembered who I am," says Rose. It’s come a long way,” he says about technology. “I know when grandpa went in 1942 it was a different ball game. You’d write a letter and it would show up three months later,” he says. Even when he served in Somalia n 1993, he says they didn’t really have email. He said you had to make phone calls back then.
A tourism video highlights the allure of the wealthy, Arabian state of Qatar.
But nothing compares to the beauty of his children and his wife--his heart and soul.
The school ended up surprising the Lt. Colonel too.
They gave the family tickets to the Colorado Rockies game this Friday.
The Lt. Col. Rose plans to retire from the Air Force in October.AlertMe