A star spangled surprise for a local soldier

PITTSBURGH, Pa. - December 23, 2011 But one homecoming was extra special.

Dawn McCracken-Bruce always has a smile on her face and she is always kissing one of her boys, Tyson and Dominick.

But this year, Captain McCracken-Bush has spent most of her time separated from her family. She shipped out to Iraq last March and except for a brief home furlough in July, has spent most of her time away from her family.

Earlier in the month, as part of the pullout of the last U.S. troops from Iraq, Dawn was back in the United States.

"I emailed the mall at Robinson where we always take the kids every year for Santa, and they were gracious enough to work with us," said Captain McCracken-Bruce. "But all I wanted was for Santa to ring a bell."

So with Dad, Scott, in on it, the boys were taken to Pittsburgh's Robinson Mall to meet Santa.

With the help of Santa, the children's Christmas wish was about to come true.

"Now we have a surprise coming, and this is going to be really good," said Santa. "Oh my goodness gracious, here comes your surprise."

Dawn walked out and greeted her boys who were still sitting on Santa's lap.

There were tears of joy and hugs all around, but Dawn didn't know was that there was a surprise waiting for her at the other end of the mall.

"What's going on here?" asks Dawn.

"It's the CV Band for you," Scott explained.

It was a star spangled tribute by the Chartiers Valley band from Dawn's old high school.

As the band played the national anthem, Dawn received a standing ovation from shoppers in the mall; a fitting tribute for one of their own finally back home with her family.

"That is awesome!" Dawn said.

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