CLARKTON, NC (WWAY) -- An ordinary school day turned into one a little girl will never forget, when her father returned home early from Afghanistan.
Caroline McKernan thought she was performing on stage for her class, but she was in for a big surprise.
He's a father who spent nearly a year deployed to Afghanistan away from the little girl he loves so much.
"She's my short blonde hair, blue-eyed Carolina girl, and she's very sweet," Army Maj. Bill McKernan said. "I'm just looking forward to getting back together with her."
It's a Christmas wish come true for Maj. McKernan and his daughter.
"I'm very nervous," Maj. McKernan said as he waited to surprise Caroline. "This isn't something I do on a regular basis. It's just good to get back with my kids."
Now instead of miles, the only thing between them is the school stage curtain.
Their hug is one neither side wants to end; an embrace as strong as the bond between them that no deployment could break.
"He sacrifices his life for me, and he'll do anything to make me happy," Caroline said after the reunion.
"It's really hard to explain," Dad said. "I'm really excited kind of at a loss for words. We always do things all together, and it's good to be all back together again."
What was once just an empty school stage will now be a place this family will never forget.
And if you're wondering, Caroline didn't have to stay for the rest of the school day. She got to leave arm in arm with her hero, or as she calls him, Daddy.