A Fort Worth soldier who has been serving in Afghanistan surprised his wife and young sons by returning home six months early – and popping out of a gift-wrapped Christmas box on their front porch.
Cpl. Travis Richmond went to Afghanistan six months ago and wasn’t scheduled to return for another six months. But his unit left early because of a reduction in surge forces, he said.
His wife, Casey Richmond, said she was prepared for a sad Christmas because he was gone.
"And I love Christmas too,” she said. “I was really not feeling it this year. With him being gone, I was crying all the time.”
Cpl. Richmond planned the surprise with longtime friends who live next door. They recorded the unexpected reunion with a home video camera.
“This is your Christmas present, OK?” the friend said, leading Casey Richmond to her front door.
"I was thinking, 'What's this big?'" she said.
She tried to open the gift, and her husband popped out.
"I went flying back into the door,” Casey Richmond said. “And then it hit me, it's him… I honestly had no clue."
The two embraced.
"You told me you were on a mission!" Casey Richmond told her husband. He replied, “I was!"
His mission was coming home.
"Waterworks were going. I was so happy to see him,” Casey Richmond said.
"It was a gift to me as well,” Travis Richmond said. “I'm very happy for it."
His job in Afghanistan was providing security in the Kandahar province, one of the most dangerous regions of the county.
He has no plans to return to Afghanistan but remains in the U.S. Army reserves and is subject to be called back, he said.
"So our Christmas is now the best Christmas ever,” Casey Richmond said. “The best Christmas ever."