Ten months is a long time to be away from home. It's even harder for those serving their country, with a family back home. All of which made a reunion at an elementary in Northwest ISD so precious Wednesday.
As they danced at a Halloween assembly at Nance Elementary School in Fort Worth, students knew it would be a special day. They had no idea how special.
Through all the music, dancing and commotion, 4-year-old Emma Philpot had no idea what was about to happen.
In the school's office, someone was waiting for her.
"I've been gone since January," Steve Philpot said. "Even though I've been doing this 17 years, it's still hard on you."
Philpot knew what he signed up for when he joined the Texas Army National Guard. Emma, his daughter, doesn't quite understand yet.
"It's been tough, mostly for her," said Tisha Philpot, Steve's wife and Emma's mom. "It's hard explaining that you have to talk to daddy on the phone. Her major concern was he was going to miss her birthday."
Emma turns five next month. Turns out, dad will be there.
As students looked on and cheered, Emma's dad appeared from around the corner. Surprised, she smiled, ran up and hugged her dad -- who she had only spoken to by phone for nearly 10 months. The embrace was a long one.
"It was emotional for me," said Philpot, who served since January on a peacekeeping mission in Egypt, as commander of Bravo Troop 1-124 Cavalry. "She's our little princess, and she's got me wrapped around her finger."
Emma Philpot didn't say much about her dad's homecoming. She didn't have to. Her smile said it all.