Military families know a kind of separation that many of us will never have to face. Their loved ones — siblings, parents, spouses — who have dedicated themselves to their country are often out of reach for long periods of time.
It can be especially difficult on the remaining spouse, who has to be strong and run the household single-handedly, but it’s also tough on the kids because they’re missing a parent.
That’s probably why surprise reunions are such a common theme. Tears, laughter, hugs and absolute joy — what’s not to love?
Hannah Sanchez of Tampa, Florida, photographed those special moments when Lt. Col. Simon McKenzie greeted his family for the first time in months, which just happened to fall on Father’s Day.
Sanchez has a photography business, so the photo shoot was set up at a park. The photos tell the rest of the story.
As Kristin McKenzie and her three kids posed and Sanchez snapped shots, a car parked in the background.
A door opened and closed. A soldier in uniform got out. He started walking up behind them.
By the time he was a few paces away, Kristin — who was in on the big surprise — lost it. She balled up her fists and shut her eyes tight with anticipation as her kids smiled and continued looking forward, completely unaware of what was about to happen.
“Can you guys believe that a car pulled up right behind this adorable family right when we started shooting?!” Sanchez posted on her Facebook page, along with the resulting photos. “And then someone just jumped out and photobombed the entiiiiiire session!? The AUDACITY.”
Of course, the “photobomber” was none other than the kids’ dad and Kristin’s husband, Simon.
“But for real, what better day than Father’s Day for this dad to finally reunite with his family! So many long months, but after being back in the US and quarantining, LTC McKenzie was able to hug and kiss his family again.”
“Congratulations! I’m so happy for y’all!” she concluded. “AND HAPPPPPY FATHER’S DAYYYY!!!!”
The photos have been shared 11,000 times, with many reporting that they were unable to get through the series without shedding a few tears themselves.
Kristin also shared them, admitting that she started crying when she heard him approach.
“I started sobbing when I heard his footsteps behind us,” she said in a comment on her post.
“Operation Surprise the Kids was a huge success,” she shared. “Not a dry eye in the bunch.”
“Blake: ‘Is he done and home for good?’ Grey: ‘Best day ever.’ Lawton: ‘Even I cried.'”
“Shout out to Hannah Sanchez for killing it with the photography. Everything I dreamed it would be and more.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.