MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) A local soldier back early from Kuwait after 7 months, surprised his three children Friday.

He popped up at their school, St. Mary’s, during an assembly.

“I was a bit surprised, I was shocked, I didn’t know that he’d be coming in,” the soldier’s children exclaimed.

What started off as a typical school assembly turned into a surprise for Owen, Henry and Kate.

Their dad Lieutenant Colonel John Kilpatrick is a Medical Corp. Officer in the U.S. Army.

He was deployed to Kuwait in June of 2015.

“When I found out I was coming home and Lori said they had this assembly today it just sounded like a great idea,” Kilpatrick said.

A great idea the kids didn’t expect.

“They told us March, so we were all a bit surprised,” Owen said.

Kate says it’s an early birthday present for her.

“I thought it was going to be after my birthday,” she said.

Lieutenant Kilpatrick says the time away from his family is challenging but he knows what he signed up for.

“It’s always hard but somebody’s got to do it,” he added.

He says thankfully technology has made communication easier.

“I spent several hours on Facebook over Christmas and it’s not the same,” he said. “but it’s pretty good.”

So what’s going to change now that dad’s back?

“Bunch of restaurants, food will be better, sorry mom,” the children said.

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