A National Guardsman who was away for 11 months has met his baby for the first time during an unexpected reunion with all four of his young children at their school.
It was also coincidentally Army Specialist Seth Howard’s 27th birthday when he surprised his kids at Gahanna Christian Academy in Ohio last week.
Except for 6-month-old Declan, three of his kids, including his 3-year-old twins and his 2-year-old son attend the school.
“My husband said that was something he really wanted to do when he found out he was going to be coming home,” his wife Shannon Howard, 28, told InsideEdition.com.
Although they had originally planned for Seth to surprise the twins in their classroom, other teachers at the school decided to organize a bigger reunion to honor his service.
Photographer Chelsie Casagrande of Big House Photography captured the whole scene.
“I’ve been very transparent about our story this whole time,” said Shannon, a high school social studies teacher at the school. “[I told them,] ‘If I ever come in and I’m in a bad mood, be nice to me.'”
Shannon explained she was three months pregnant with their youngest son Declan when her husband left for deployment in Jordan in January.
“The kids have gone through a lot this past year and it’s been pretty crazy,” she said.
When she gave birth to Declan while Seth was away, the kids had her husband on FaceTime during the delivery and she makes sure to have them video chat whenever possible.
“[Declan] has been smiling like crazy,” Shannon said. “It’s almost like he knows this guy is going to be really important in his life. I think he recognized him. It wasn’t like it was a stranger, but he’s been smiling at my husband ever since.”
Seth has no further plans for redeployment and is now looking forward to spending the holidays with his family.