A fifth grade class from Huntsville, Alabama, gathered in the cafeteria for a special event on Friday that left some of them crying tears of joy. One classmate, Kael Lancey, was especially shocked. The surprise was his mom, Sgt. Desiree Lancey, home from deployment. CBS Huntsville affiliate WHNT-TV was there to capture the heartwarming homecoming.
The class thought they were doing a history project on former NASA engineers. The school's namesake, Roger B. Chaffee, was an astronaut in the Apollo program, so the fifth graders believed the ruse. Little did they know, this gathering wasn't really about schoolwork.
The class was joined by the school's mascot, a larger-than-life bald eagle character, as they sang the national anthem. Then, at the end of the song, the eagle revealed who was really inside the eagle costume. It was Kael's mom.
When Sgt. Lancey took off the eagle mask, her son's face immediately brightened. He ran from his group of classmates and into his mom's arms. Kael started crying tears of joy and so did some of his classmates. One boy was seen jumping up and down at the sight of Kael's mom.
Sgt. Lancey is in the Army and has been deployed in Kuwait for nearly a year. Kael hasn't seen his mom since last Christmas, so her return for this holiday season is extra special.
When asked what it's like to have his mom back, he leaned over and gave her a hug. "Lots of hugs all weekend right? OK, good," Sgt. Lancey told her son.
"It's hard being in the military and being away from them so much, but seeing his face, just that initial [look] when I walked in and saw his face, I couldn't breathe and I was so excited. It's just bliss," the mom told WHNT-TV.
"My heart's been racing the whole time, I was so nervous to come and see you," Sgt. Lancey told Kael. He got to leave school early on Friday and spend some well-deserved time with his mom.
It's the end of Sgt. Lancey's third deployment and she doesn't have any others on the horizon. So for the foreseeable future, she'll have more time to focus on being a mom.