A little boy from North Dakota got the surprise of a lifetime for his birthday -- in the form of his military dad returning home from deployment.
Ronin Coffelt, 9, was expecting to see his father, Mark, for his 9th birthday, but instead received a distressing note attached to a massive present. His father, the note read, apparently wouldn’t be able to make it this year.
"I am so sorry," Ronin read aloud from the note he thought was from his father. "And it looks like I will not be home for your birthday this year.
"I am so sorry," he read, his voice cracking.
Ronin starts crying, but his mom, Aleecia, urges him to open the big birthday box.
When he opens the box, it leads to another box, then another. Until finally, there's another note.
"Surprise," Ronin read, confused.
That's when he looks up, sees his father, and runs toward him.
"Daddy, daddy, daddy!" he screams, jumping into his father's arms. "I love you!"
Mark Coffelt, who is an Air Force senior master sergeant, told ABC News later that his deployments have required a lot of sacrifices.
“While I’ve been deployed, I’ve missed several life moments,” he said Sunday. “The last three have been the hardest.”
“We did have a plan for about three months before Mark came home,” Aleecia Coffelt said. “And the plan fell through.”
The first plan didn't work out, but they had a backup.
Mark and Aleecia had the whole thing planned out. After returning from deployment in Al Udeid, Qatar, Mark hid nearby, waiting for the perfect moment to pop out and surprise Ronin.
They tried to have Mark pop out of a box, but could not find one big enough. So they settled on the note.
And when Ronin opened up the box and read from the note, Aleecia recorded the whole thing -- and the video has gone viral.
The surprised worked, but Ronin wondered about mission's tactics.
"Why'd you have to put it all in boxes?" Ronin asked, referring to the surprise note.
"Well, you know," Mark responded, hugging his son. "I had to make the surprise good."