A Navy lieutenant brought some heart and emotion to Nationals Park Tuesday evening hours before the first pitch of Washington’s game against the Houston Astros.
He just returned from Afghanistan and hadn't seen his children in seven months. With a little help from his wife and the Nationals organization, he surprised his children who thought their dad was due home next month.
It was a day at Nationals Park that 10-year-old Maddie and 12-year-old Joey will never forget. The Rockville, Md., siblings thought their stepmother won a contest from a military family organization for a VIP experience to see the Nationals at batting practice and then watch game.
What they didn't know yet was the real reason they were here.
Lt. Lew Cooper is just back from a long deployment to Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.
While the children were watching the players on the field, Cooper walked out of the tunnel and came up behind his children. When they turned around, there were hugs, tears and lots of smiles. (Click on the video above to watch the emotional reunion)
“I'm speechless,” Lt. Cooper told us. “I feel like I'm dreaming and I'm going to wake up in Kabul. I hope not.”
“I was just so surprised,” her daughter said. “I'm so happy he came back. I really missed him.”
“I'm very proud of my dad for coming home early,” said Joey. “I'm so happy to see him.”
Lt. Cooper's wife hatched the plan to surprise the kids.
“I'm so grateful to the Nats,” said Amy Cooper. “They're wonderful.”
She also coordinated the plan with the children’s mother.
“Absolutely, we're a team, we're all in it together,” Amy said.
“As commissioned officers, we take an oath and I’m proud of what I do,” said Lt. Cooper. “It's my job, but my family keeps me going. I do it for them. I do it for you.”
Lt. Cooper will deploy again and the family knows, but the Navy is sending him to graduate school, so he is staying at home for at least for the next year and a half.
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