JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One Northeast Florida mother got a surprise truly fitting for an Independence Day weekend. She hadn't seen her son in a year because he was serving in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army National Guard.
U.S. Army National Guard Spc. Kyler Lunman didn't tell his mother, Kathleen Lunman, he was coming home. She hadn't seen him since he left for service a year ago, and as a USO volunteer Lunman thought she was at Jacksonville International Airport on Saturday to greet someone else. She was surprised to see her son running toward her.
"My son is home. And here we thought that we were welcoming a Navy pilot who was coming in who didn't have any family and then my little boy. I can't even talk I'm so happy. What a surprise I thank everybody so much," said Lunman.
This is a change for Lunman. As a USO volunteer she's been in the airport like this before, but always to welcome other servicemen and women, never her own.
And for the last year she'd been waiting and worrying about her son serving in Afghanistan.
"We prayed so hard for him to come back and he came back safe sound and in great form as we can see," said Lunman.
Lunman thought she'd be seeing her son next Monday, that he'd be at Fort Dix in New Jersey a little while longer. But he was able to leave early and worked hard to make sure his mother didn't find out.
"I said I'm going to make this her special day. This is mommy's day. It's just good to be home and seeing mom and she's going to have a good day, " said Spc. Kyler Lunman.
It took a whole team of people to come together to make this surprise happen from the USO to Southwest Airlines Even Lunman's husband was in on it, and he had to work hard to keep it a secret.
"Kathleen's one of our great volunteers here at the airport center and I just thought yeah we can do this," said Jim Bury of the USO, director of the USO Airport Center.
Bury teamed up with Lunman's father, who said the toughest part was having to lie to his wife.
"There were very difficult juggling things like he said a phone call from a number in New Jersey she would say who is that from? I would say I don't know I'd have to think on the spot some crazy story that didn't make sense and she bought it hook line and sinker," said Kyler Lunman.
Now they're just happy to have him home, and to be a family again.