Mark Schnyder, NBC 5 News
Staff Sergeant TJ Black surprises his daughter and meets his son for the first time after being deployed overseas.
All Three-year-old June Black knew Saturday morning is she was about to meet Santa Claus. But a few feet away at the
Stonebriar Mall in Frisco a more beloved figure was about to enter the picture, her dad, Staff Sergeant TJ Black. Staff Sgt. Black arrived at DFW International Airport Saturday morning after finishing his fifth deployment, a six-month stint in Southern Afghanistan.
Black yelled, "Daddy," when she saw him and into his arms she ran. Meantime in the mall Santa’s other arm was Staff Sgt. Black’s Five-month old son, Lucas, whom he’d never met.
"I’m just ready to get the relationship started," said Staff Sgt. Black. "Get some quality time with him."
Lucas was born a month into Staff Sgt. Black's latest deployment with the 4th Engineering Battalion. That deployment ended just in time for a pre-Christmas surprise and one-of-a-kind photo with Santa. A thrill for the whole family and everyone who got to see this lump in the throat moment, even the mall Santa.
"Thank you for your service," the Santa told Staff Sgt. Black. "Bless you for being home."
Wife Cynthia Black is used to her army combat recovery specialist husband being deployed, Four tours to Iraq, one to Afghanistan. But it's been tougher on their young daughter. That's why she wanted this for her.
"She’s missed him so much all during the deployment," said Cynthia Black. "She talked about him every day and having him just show up sounded so much more exciting than just telling her." (he was coming home).
Staff Sergeant Black's aunt, Sandra Johnson organized this welcome home surprise. Staff St. Black knew he was surprising his kids, but didn't know a dozen or so family members would be there to surprise him.
"He never had a party going away. He’s never had a welcome home party and we’re very blessed to have him back after five tours," said Johnson. "He’s been in very hostile situations over there and I was thankful we got the news he was coming home and just threw it (the surprise party at the mall) together."
For years the Blacks have celebrated birthdays, holidays and other milestones through Skype. But this Christmas, no computers required.