Back in 2015, Monica Jackson, with Fox5 News, received a letter from a female soldier serving in Afghanistan.
The woman, Julie Mauldin, was a Staff Sgt. at the Creech airbase and had been forced to leave her three children and her husband Jason when she had been deployed.
Her letter to Monica Jackson and the Fox5 Surprise Squad read:
“Dear Surprise Squad,
My husband and children have been my strength back home. Jason, my husband, takes on the tough job of looking after three children every day.
I have missed Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, my husbands birthday, and now we’re coming up on Valentine’s Day.
We never really went out for Valentine’s Day, but I’d say this holiday is more important than ever for our family.
It takes a lot of love of love and commitment to take on everything my husband has with so much uncertainty as to when, and if, I will come home.”
Because women are often associated with childrearing and the home, female soldiers can feel particularly conflicted about being separated from their children. More than 100,000 female soldiers who have served in wars are mothers (about half of all the women who have been deployed), reports the New York Times.
“Like men, they return to the military for all sorts of reasons,” the publication explains. “The pay is good, particularly in a war zone, the benefits are excellent and the jobs offer financial security and career advancement… Yet mothers, whether married or single, say that long periods of time away from their children and then the transition back to domestic life… can be excruciatingly difficult.”
Luckily for Julie, Monica Jackson and the Fox5 Surprise Squad were going to help her surprise her family in a very special way.
Julie had seen videos of soldiers doing homecoming surprises for their families and wanted to do something similar. Now with the help of the news station, her dream would be coming true.
“I’ve always thought the [surprise] homecomings were so awesome, and now I get to do one myself,” she told Creech Airforce Base.
“This is such a big thing to me, getting to come home to my children and surprise them as well.”
The Surprise Squad flew Julie all the way back from Afghanistan, where she met Monica Jackson at the McCarren International Airport in Las Vegas.
The two women had to figure out a plan that wouldn’t be suspicious to the family.
Because the Mauldins had annual passes to Shark Reef in Mandalay Bay, they decided to surprise them there.
“We have annual passes, so we go to the aquarium all the time,” she said.
“The kids will love it.”
In the video, you see the family exploring the aquarium; they have no idea that Julie is hiding behind the scenes.
At one point, as they examine a tank, a man in scuba suit approaches the glass. He holds up a sign that says, “Surprise Jason and Kids!” When he flips it over, the sign asks them to turn around.
That’s when the family sees Julie standing there, waiting.
Monica Jackson gives the family roses and chocolates in celebration of Valentine’s Day. She then presents the couple with a $2,500 check.
“I was so shocked I thought ‘is this real?'” Julie’s oldest daughter told Creech Air Force Base.
“I suspected as soon as I saw the sign,” Jason revealed. “I started looking around there she was right behind us.
“I’m amazed she kept it a secret, [but mostly] I’m glad she’s home.”
See the touching moment below!
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