Home for the holidays: Marine surprises niece, nephews at New Jersey school

Alicia Vitarelli Image
Thursday, December 15, 2022
Marine surprises family for holidays at NJ school
Marine Private First Class Tyler Dawson surprised his niece and three nephews during an emotional homecoming in New Jersey.

BROWNS MILLS, New Jersey (WPVI) -- The holiday classic 'I'll Be Home for Christmas' was originally written to honor soldiers overseas who longed to be home at Christmas time.

On Wednesday, that wish came true for one local servicemember who pulled off the surprise of a lifetime.

Marine Private First Class Tyler Dawson returned home from deployment, and on Wednesday, his niece and three nephews found that out in an emotional way.

Dawson surprised them at Denbo-Crichton Elementary School in Browns Mills, New Jersey.

"As I heard them scream 'Uncle,' I almost cried, Dawson says. "I was trying to hold it in, but I teared up a little bit. It's just surreal. I feel great seeing them again. I really, really miss them more than words could ever explain."

"I was so happy and I ran over to hug him," says his niece, Rianna.

"We don't usually see him and I wasn't expecting it," says his nephew Aidan. "I thought today was going to be an ordinary day. We haven't seen him for six months, so it's been a pretty long time without me seeing him."

The children's mother, Dawson's sister, passed away, and they are very close to him.

Dawson is a helicopter mechanic for the Marines. He says he's thrilled to be home for the holidays with the kids and mom's cooking and hopes we get some snow for sledding.