Matthew Hohn, 18, thought he was nearing the end of an uneventful graduation practice Thursday afternoon when an administrator at his Las Vegas high school called out his name.
As Hohn got up to walk to the administrator, he saw his older brother, Bradley Hohn, a U.S. Army specialist based in Germany who flew more than 20 hours to surprise his brother and watch him graduate from high school.
“I sprinted to him and pretty much tackled him for a hug,” Matthew Hohn said. “I really didn’t expect it at all.”
"I took a shoulder to the chin," Bradley Hohn said of the tackle. "Honestly I wasn’t expecting that [response]."
Matthew Hohn, who will graduate today from Ed W. Clark High School, was shocked to see his brother at the rehearsal in his high school's cafeteria because of a text he had received just hours earlier.
“As soon as I woke up on Wednesday, I texted him that I was going on a mission to Poland,” Bradley Hohn, 22, said. “He didn’t reply so I assumed he was sad.”
Matthew said he was sad to hear that his brother would officially not be there to see him graduate. The pair describe themselves as best friends and Bradley Hohn had not been home from Germany in over one year.
The planning for the surprise visit started in March when Bradley Hohn’s leave was approved. The family coordinated logistics using the chat name “Secret Brad Mission.”
Bradley Hohn and his wife, Jacqueline, missed their flight in Germany on Wednesday due to traffic on the way to the airport. They paid $1,700 to buy new tickets so the secret trip could continue, according to Bradley Hohn.
“I wasn’t going to let that stop me from seeing my little brother graduate high school,” he said.
Nearly 20 family members will be on hand today to cheer on Matthew Hohn as he graduates. He is following in his brother’s footsteps and joining the Army.
“I’ve never been prouder of the kid,” Bradley Hohn said of his brother. “It shocked me when he told me he wanted to do it and the next day he was like, ‘I just enlisted.’ It kind of hit home for me a little bit.”
Matthew Hohn is scheduled to report to basic training in August in Georgia. That same month, Bradley Hohn and his wife will move to Colorado for a new Army assignment.
In the meantime, they will enjoy spending time together before Bradley Hohn and his wife return to Germany next week.
“This was the best graduation present I could ever ask for,” Matthew Hohn said.