Airman surprises son at school

HOUSTON -- When six-year old Christian Del Valle walked into his PE class Wednesday, he had no clue that he was in for the surprise of his young life.

"He knows I'm coming home soon, just not today," says his father, U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Armando Del Valle.

"He asked me today 'Mommy, when is daddy coming,'" says Laura Del Valle. "And I said he'll come next week, Friday."

Senior Airman Del Valle got back from his yearlong deployment Tuesday.

"We never had him gone for that long," Christian says.

"I feel so bad because he was in the next room. He had to hide," says Laura Del Valle.

"I had to sleep in a recliner to make sure they didn't see I was there," dad adds.

Laura Del Valle worked with the staff at Ed White E-Stem Elementary to pull the big surprise together. The plan was to put dad in a costume to do the 12 Days of Gym Class dance with the students and have Christian reveal who was underneath.

"He's going to think it's just the principal or another teacher in the costume," said gym teacher April Fortenberry before the big reveal. "He's not even gonna realize that it's his father."

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I'm sure we're gonna need to put some Kleenex on our table," added Wendy Clough.

When the big moment happened, Christian didn't say a word for about 30 seconds while he and his father cried.

"I missed you daddy," he said.

There were plenty of tears to go around.

"I'm not much of a crier. I didn't know I'd react that way," said Sr. Airman Del Valle.

Christian says he's excited to have dad back. We asked what he wanted to do first.

"Play at the park," he told us.

They checked Christian out early and say their first stop was the park.
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