These service members' top-secret mission? Holiday reunions

Soldiers' family reunions

The best military operations require bold planning, radio silence and precision execution. What happens when you add in some holiday magic?

When Army Lt. Bo Farrell wished Notre Dame’s basketball team well Monday, a “good” night became “great” for his brother Matt. The starting point guard -- grateful to see Bo safe -- from what Matt thought was Afghanistan.

But when it turned out Bo was actually in South Bend, “great” became a moment these brothers will remember forever.

Deployed for the holidays

Same thing at Widewater Elementary School in Virginia last week. Jackson Rescott had an XBox at the top of his wishlist ready. But Santa had a better idea. Marine Staff Sgt. David Rescott, deployed overseas the last eight and a half months, left his son’s jaw hanging open -- until he managed a few words.

The last couple of weeks, ‘tis been the season for a battalion of military moms and dads, sons and daughters to pull off the kind of surprise attack that no one minds being the target of.

Just this week, a couple of daughters recording the mannequin challenge at their school in Oklahoma had a surprise waiting at the end of the line -- seeing their dad for the first time in a year.

Specialist Christine Rainey surprised her 10-year old daughter Kayla in South Carolina

And Air Force Master Sgt. John Lang surprised his 20-year old daughter, a hockey nut who attended her first Chicago Blackhawks game ever. It was bittersweet since her dad wasn’t there to share it. Until he was. 

Another holiday antidote to all that news that’s left us asking “what’s wrong with the world?” --- by showing us what’s right. 

  • Jim Axelrod

    Jim Axelrod is the senior national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for "CBS This Morning," the "CBS Evening News," "CBS Sunday Morning," and other CBS News broadcasts.