NEW ORLEANS - After six long months at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, several Louisiana Air National Guard soldiers were finally able to come home.
It made for an emotional homecoming Thursday when one airman decided to give his daughter a surprise she will never forget.
8-year-old Grace Dietz was stunned when her teachers and classmates erupted in applause and cheers as her father walked in and scooped her up in his arms.
Louisiana Air National Guard airman Master Sgt. Freddie Dietz Jr. returned home from his deployment in Afghanistan.
It was the first time in over six months that the father of four was able to hold his little girl in his arms. He was overcome with emotion.
"Every day being able to grab your kid, your wife and your children and say I love you," said Dietz about the little things in life he has learned to appreciate.
His daughter, Grace, was so shocked and overwhelmed with joy, she could hardly utter a word. But actions spoke louder than words as she clung to her dad.
During his surprise homecoming, Dietz got a hero's welcome from all the other students.
The second graders at St. Matthew Catholic School in River Ridge sent care packages and thank you letters to Dietz and the other soldiers in his unit, and the kids were all smiles as he made his way around their classroom.
Aside from spending time with family, Dietz said he is looking forward to a long family vacation in Jamaica.
"I have some time off, which will be wonderful," said Dietz. "So, hopefully I will be Mr. Mom."
When asked what she plans to do with her dad first, Grace responded without hesitation, "Go swimming."
For the past 27 years, Dietz has traveled the world with his unit, which specializes in engineering and installation of ground communication-electronics systems. While Dietz has some time off, he said there is always a chance he will be called to serve in another part of the world.