OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - It wasn’t the best executed surprise in the history of returning service members, but it was still effective.
Maj. Scott Brown, with the help of his children’s Junior ROTC instructor, got the reception he hoped for when he arrived at Ocean Springs High School on Wednesday.
Brown’s four children, all members of the school’s Army JROTC, were suspicious that something was up. They had been reading clues from their mom and were even watching flight patterns.
“They’re my little detectives, I taught them well,” said their mom Mary. “I’m pleased, but still I kind of pulled it off, so I’m very happy about that.”
There was even an element of surprise for Maj. Brown, who has been serving with the Command Joint Task Force in Operation Inherent Resolve fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
“I actually was kind of surprised myself when Mary said, ‘well we have to meet at the high school,’” he said. “I knew we were going to surprise the kids, but I was kind of surprised myself when I saw that, oh WLOX is here.”
No matter if it is caught on camera or not, the reunion of a family at the end of deployment is always special.
For the Brown family, there have been four deployments.
Daughter Megan had tears in her eyes when she said, “I didn’t realize how close we really were until he left.”
Katie Brown remembered a previous reunion that really hit her.
“Whenever he came back from Afghanistan, it was a really good moment, because you don’t realize how much you need something until it’s not there anymore," she said.
Brown’s son Christian was to the point.
“It’s really, really happy and a good moment," he said.
Going to war will always be hard, and service members know that their strength comes from the love they feel from their family back home.
“There’s never an easy deployment,” Maj. Brown said. “Whenever you can reach back to the home and you have the support of the family saying you can do this, you’ll be home soon, it helps.”
The support and strength of the spouse is key.
“This one’s been the most difficult out of the four,” Mary Brown said. “It was easier when they were newborn, one, two and three.”
That was for his first deployment in 2005 when Christian was barely three months old.
“But the support that I have from work, and from fellow spouses and his staff and stuff that he’s worked with, it’s helped a lot,” she said.
Brown said he is proud that all of his children are in JROTC, but it doesn’t matter to him if they join the military or not.