Andres Gutierrez, NBC 5 News
Marine Lt. Col. Patrick Johnson's homecoming was a special surprise for his three children during a school assembly at Dallas Academy Friday.
Three Dallas children reunited with their Marine father in a surprise homecoming after nearly a year apart.
Lt. Col. Patrick Johnson has served three deployments in Afghanistan.
"You focus on the mission; you focus on the requirements," he said.
But as a father, there's a weak spot for his children underneath that exterior.
"I'm not allowed to get broken down," he said. "I think about them frequently. I thought of this moment for a long time."
Hundreds of students at the Dallas Academy gathered a patriotic assembly Friday. Johnson's family, including 12-year-old Bryghte, 10-year-old Asher and 5-year-old daughter Madray sat in the front row.
There were bear hugs from his children and tears from their mother when he came out.
Bryghte, whose birthday is on Sunday, said his father's surprise homecoming is a tremendous birthday gift.
"It was probably the biggest surprise of my life," he said.
Johnson will be home for a while; there is no word whether or not he'll be deployed overseas again.
"The circle has been closed," he said. "It's great to be together again."