FRESNO, Calif. -- A happy homecoming, months in the making, was pulled off without a hitch in Northwest Fresno Wednesday. A marine just back from his sixth deployment surprised his sons at a Clovis little league baseball game.
Gunnery Sergeant Chad Solomon didn't think he'd made it in time to watch his 8-year-old son's playoff game. A lot was at play to get him to the ball field, including finding a disguise, a free plane ride and a lot of secrecy.
Number 27 hits the batter's box without a clue that his dad, a 15-year Marine was right behind him. Michael Solomon is happy to wrap his arms around his dad. And shortly after, coming from the dugout, 6-year-old Anthony who seems uncertain that dad is really in front of him.
"When I took the helmet off he was still kinda in shock that I was here because he had no idea I was coming," GySgt. Solomon said.
Solomon has been in Okinawa, Japan for the past six months serving on his sixth deployment. He twice served overseas in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
"This deployment was a lot easier I think because we had the communications with the boys and I was able to message them separately, instead of always having to use mom's phone," Solomon said.
This was Solomon's third deployment since the boys were born. It was the hardest on them emotionally. The Solomon's are just happy the mission, for now, is complete.
Clovis police officer and baseball coach Anthony Gonzalez helped orchestrate the surprise. He also convinced Aviation in Action to pick Solomon and his wife up from southern California for free after his flight home from Japan. The non-profit usually runs medical missions, but couldn't pass on this chance to help.
"Well there was a time crunch so coming commercial flight it never would have happened," said Aviation in Action founder Mark Addis. "And coming by car it would have been way too late."
The Solomons live near Camp Pendleton. But Ana and her sons moved to Clovis with her family during this deployment. Signing the boys up for baseball, she never imagined she'd find more family.
"It's just been great to know we have the support outside of the military," Ana Solomon said.
Immediate plans for the Solomons including just the fun stuff.
"We're probably gonna play all night, do boy stuff, rough-housing and stay up late," GySgt. Solomon said.
Solomon has to report to work in San Diego on Tuesday. And since his son was picked for all-stars this summer he'll be going back and forth to watch his games.