Sgt. Johnny Stewart had to wait a few extra hours before he could see his children Wednesday morning.

Stewart was deployed to Bosnia and Kosovo last May with the U.S. Army National Guard. He flew into Huntsville Tuesday night and arrived home with his wife, Sherri, around 9 p.m. But, according to plan, their children were spending the night with their grandparents.

On Wednesday morning, Cornerstone Christian School Principal Danny Ashley called the students together for an assembly to showcase the school’s steel drum band. He invited five students up to for a lesson on the drums with the band, the students included Trey and Caroline Stewart.

While the children took a drum lesson, their father snuck in from the audience and surprised them. When Johnny Stewart tapped Trey on the back, his son turned around and looked completely shocked.

“I was amazed,” Trey said. “I had no idea my dad was back home.”

Stewart said it was tough to come home and not see his children immediately.

“It was very difficult,” Johnny Stewart said. “I obviously wanted to see them as soon as possible. I wanted to go to their grandmother’s house. But, I decided it would be nice to surprise Trey at school.”

Stewart said he arrived in Texas last week and decided to set up the surprise. He told his wife about it and she talked with Ashley to set up the reunion between father and children. To keep the assembly a surprise, Sherrie Stewart told the children she had a meeting in Huntsville and they would have to stay with their grandmother.

She picked up her husband and the couple arrived back in Rainsville later that night. On Wednesday morning, they made their way to Cornerstone to surprise their children.

“it was hard keeping the secret,” Stewart said. “My wife talked to Mr. Ashley and he set everything up. We couldn’t have done it without Mr. Ashley’s help.”

After the reunion, Stewart said he was going to spend some time with his family before assuming his role as the new police chief in Rainsville.

“I’m going to take a few weeks off and spend some time with my family,” he said. “We’re planning a trip to Florida. I’ll drop by the police department a few times to check in and keep up with what’s going on. I’m looking forward to spending time with my family, and I’m looking at returning to work about the first week in April.”

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