Emotional homecoming as soldier surprises son at school - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Emotional homecoming as soldier surprises son at school


WISCONSIN RAPIDS (WAOW) --  It's a very Merry Christmas for hundreds of local military families.  The war in Iraq is over, so thousands of soldiers are on their way home.

But for Sgt. Peter Hilger, his homecoming was something he will never forget.

As Washington Elementary School's principal announced Sgt. Peter Hilger was their special guest, Hilger's son Johnny couldn't believe his eyes. He ran and jumped right into his dad's arms. 

Sgt. Hilger has been in the U.S. Army for 11 years. It has been four months since he's seen his son Johnny.

"I was really surprised to see him. I thought he wasn't going to come," Johnny said with his dad by his side.

It was Johnny's grandmother, Jean, that planned the surprise. She used a popular television show as inspiration.

"Johnny watches the Homecoming show on TV and I thought he would never believe that he would have a homecoming like that," Jean said.

And the outcome couldn't have been better.

"He'll hang onto him and probably never let him go," Jean said.

But their story hasn't always been happy. Four months ago Higler suffered a massive stroke while he was stationed in Afghanistan.

"It's a call you never want to get as a mom of a solider in active duty," Jean said. "You just don't know what to expect."

Higler battled through the first round of rehabilitation, and has to return in a few days for more. But for now, he has very special plans.

"We're going to play together," Johnny said. "It will be great," Higler added.

And Johnny is not letting his dad out of his sight.

"I missed him this much!" Johnny said as he stretched his arms out wide to give his dad a big hug.

Online Reporter: Emily Neubauer


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