BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - For military families, deployment can be a strain for service members, their spouses, and children.
One father serving in the United States Air Force was able to come home to give his four daughters the surprise of a lifetime Wednesday afternoon.
Miguel Figueroa, a Technical Sergeant in the Air Force, returned from Korea. He also served in Iraq in 2008.
Figueroa left the United States in February 2017, returned in August, and left again. His daughters thought he would return in March, not February.
"I had to hide in the closet in the morning so that way they don't see me and one of the daughters went to grab a jacket, I'm on the inside pulling the door so they don't see me," Figueroa said.
It was a surprise homecoming-turned-operation at Tommy Smith Elementary.
Faculty and media members stood in front of the windows and doors to prevent his daughters from seeing inside the media center.
Figueroa explained that he surprised his youngest daughter at her school first and then came to Tommy Smith to surprise his oldest three.
"I feel happy and I was crying tears of joy," Alanis Figueroa, 9, said with a smile.
One of her dad's qualities that Alanis missed the most was exactly what she got Wednesday.
"Basically his hugs and his kisses that he gives to me and his cuddles," she said.
To get the girls out of class, their mother and administrators told them they were dismissed for a dentist visit.
It turns out, they still had to go to the dentist after the surprise.
Alanis told us she looks forward to spending her time with her father and hopes to go to the zoo with him.