01/14/09 — Surprise! Your dad's home.

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Surprise! Your dad's home.

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 14, 2009 1:46 PM

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Tech Sgt. Timothy Larson, center, with sons Toby, left, and Zakary when he picked them up at Meadow Lane Elementary School on Monday afternoon. Larson just returned from a six-month tour in Iraq and came directly from the airport to surprise his children.

Toby and Zakary Larson were called to the principal's office at Meadow Lane Elementary School just before the bell rang Monday afternoon.

They weren't in trouble, Principal Celia James assured them.

They had a visitor from overseas.

It was the first time this school year that Tech Sgt. Timothy Larson has picked up his children. For the past six months, he had been stationed in Iraq.

And while his family anticipated his return sometime this week, it was still a shock to see him standing in the school office.

"The boys and their dad were all smiles," said counselor Michelle Gurley, who was on hand to coordinate the reunion.

"I wanted to surprise them," Larson said.

So as soon as his girlfriend picked him up at the Raleigh airport, the next destination was his children's school.

"I walked in and said, 'Hey, I would like to pick up my sons,'" he said. "I was in uniform and explained that I had just gotten back today (Monday) and that they didn't know."

Of course, the children -- Toby is a third-grader, Zakary is in second grade -- certainly weren't expecting to be called down to the principal's office, their dad said.

"The principal asked, 'What would be a good Christmas present for you?' One of my sons said 'a good video game,' the other said 'to go see my cousins,'" Larson said.

Then dad came into view.

"My youngest was kind of shocked so he really didn't do much and my middle one just stood there and had his mouth open, he was really surprised, but then they came over and gave me some great big hugs," he said.

The next goal was to see his oldest child, Bethany, a sophomore at Eastern Wayne High School. They decided to meet her at home.

"I brought the boys home to do their homework, and we devised a plan that they would tell my daughter that the boys had been dropped off by her mom and left home alone," Larson said. "That really got her -- they played along but almost gave it away. She was about ready to call her mom. That's when I spoke and she came racing down the hallway and gave me a big hug."

The reunion has been "awesome," Larson said. "Just to see my kids again -- it was good to come home."

This is not the first time he has been away. He had previously been deployed to Kuwait last year. At this point, he expects to be around for awhile.

"As far as I know, it should be roughly about a year" before any other overseas assignments come his way, he said.

One of the first things he wanted to do once stateside -- aside from being reunited with his children -- was to eat fast food.

He works in Airfield Management Operations and officially reports for duty in February.

Until then, he said his plans are simple.

"Being able to go out and eat, just play with them and just go on a trip with my girlfriend with my kids," he said.