LEMON GROVE, Calif. (KGTV) - Eleven months of waiting and one month of planning led to the moment that brought everyone in the Mount Vernon Preschool classroom to tears.
Private First Class in the Army National Guard Brian Salazar served his first deployment in Qatar. He's a combat engineer based out of National City. His wife Krystal painstakingly planned a reunion in their 4-year-old daughter's classroom, to surprise her. Brian's parents, among other family were inside too.
His mother, Maria Salazar, said in Spanish she thought of him every time she went to sleep, every time she ate and wondered if he ate or not, if he was suffering or not, these thoughts constantly ran through her mind.
"I did have those moments where I really missed him and I'd cry myself to sleep knowing that he wasn't there," Krystal said.
Brian was focused on his little girl Annabel, "hopefully she's as excited to see me as I am her," he said minutes before walking through the door. His mom saw him first, letting out a joyful laugh and bursting to tears. It took Annabel a few seconds to realize what was happening, soon as she realized the man in the camouflage uniform was her dad, she ran and jumped over classmates to get to him. They collapsed into a group hug and sobbed with joy.
The embrace lasting minutes as they held firmly to him, affirming to themselves he's truly home. The first words came from Annabel. He asked if she missed him and she squeaked out a quiet response echoing his words.
The emotion bringing everyone in the classroom to applaud.
Annabel showed her dad she made an art project of a soldier who mirrored him. When asked, she told him she wanted to go with him to Legoland.