After three deployments, the most recent being a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan, Army Staff Sgt. Brandon Pickett was used to missing out on events involving his children.
But seeing his 9-year-old son, Jayce, play football is no longer on that list.
"This was the very first game I've been able to see," Pickett, 30, told " Good Morning America."
On Sept. 14, completely unbeknown to Jayce, Pickett arrived at Ed Loeb Field in Lawrenceville, Ill., where his son was suited up ready to play his junior league game.
"I wanted to make it a big deal for him. He's my little buddy," Pickett said. "I couldn't wait to see his expression."
At first, Pickett had big plans to sneak up behind him and toss his son the football, but that all changed as soon as Jayce burst into tears the second he laid eyes on his father for the time in almost a year.
"As soon as he started crying I just couldn't believe I was finally there," Pickett said. "It's been a year since I've been able to see him. I was ready to let him know I was home."
Completely caught off guard, young Jayce couldn't catch his breath for a few minutes.
"I didn't want to interrupt his game, but he said, 'No, I'm good daddy,' and the very next play he sacked the quarterback," Pickett said.
And now that Pickett has been reunited with his "little buddy," with no plans for redeployment in the near future, the father and son have plenty of time to catch up on some much needed bonding.
"He's already made some big plans," Pickett said. "We have video games to play, and he has an Apache helicopter I sent him while I was away that we're finally going to put together."