Damon Solomon is a father to six children, but he’s also in the Army and on his fifth deployment. It can be tricky for families to navigate life when one parent is so far away, especially especially when it comes to special occasions. So when Solomon’s eldest son, Tyler, was set to graduate from high school, the family was expecting more of the same. They assumed they’d have to celebrate the big day without their father present.
But Solomon had a surprise up his sleeve. As they called his son’s name — and as he walked across the Marshfield High School football field — his dad was there to witness it. And it proved to be a huge surprise for Tyler.
Once Tyler accepted his diploma, the principal stopped him and made him stay on stage for just a minute more as the announcer said:
“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.”
And then Tyler saw his dad head across the field to meet him. The sweet moment was caught on video:
Marshfield High School graduate Tyler Solomon is stunned as he receives his diploma and is reunited with his father, 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. pic.twitter.com/iiETnxutl0
— Marshfield Student Broadcasting (@MSBtv) June 2, 2018
The two met in the middle and hugged, while the crowd cheered. And you could definitely tell his appearance was a surprise for the son.
“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,'” Tyler’s father told ABC News.
Before returning to watch his son graduate from high school, the elder Solomon had been serving as a helicopter crew chief in Kosovo and had been away from his family for his fifth tour since January. According to CBS News, he only told his mom and girlfriend that he’d be coming home. So naturally, his other five children we shocked to see their dad, too.
“Their reactions were emotional. They’re a lot older now, so the pain is authentic. When they were younger, they didn’t understand the concept of time, but they do now,” their dad told CBS News.
Despite the fact that deployed soldiers aren’t allowed much time off, this is just one example of a time a dad has made it home for an incredibly special moment. Army Sergeant Francois Clerfe once took a total of 10 flights to make it back from Kuwait just in time for the birth of his daughter:
It just goes to show — a father’s love knows no bounds. We’re so happy these fathers got to be a part of these special days for their families!