WEST BABYLONG, Long Island (WABC) -- There was an emotional surprise for two elementary school children who were enjoying field day on Thursday.
Forest Avenue Elementary School 4th-grader Nicholas Zito and his 3rd-grade sister Samantha were shocked to see their dad surprise them.
Staff Sgt. Nicholas Zito is a member of the Army National Guard and had been deployed overseas for more than a year.
He has been deployed in Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya -- something his family his very proud of.
"I think it's very important for the school community and the children to see the sacrifice that Mr. Zito has made," said 3rd-grade teacher Robert Mckeown.
The moment he walked out during the field day was priceless as both kids jumped into his arms and their joy from his surprise return could fill an entire field.
"Immediately the tears started, I didn't even know how I was gonna keep it together because Nicholas just talks about his father all the time," said 4th-grad teacher Amanda Craig.
For Nicholas Jr., the joy comes down to one word: football.
"I was never able to play a lot of sports or pass the football around and now I'm gonna be passing the football around 24/7," he said.
But mostly, it's about making up for lost time -- counting the inches the kids have grown and being present in the moment.
And Staff Sgt. Zito will have plenty of time to do all that catching up -- he'll be based in Farmingdale, and not likely to be deployed again until 2025.
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