About 85,000 football fans at the University of South Carolina's Williams-Brice Stadium witnessed a very special surprise for one family during the halftime show at the much-anticipated University of Georgia game Saturday.
"I was just doing something for the family, and I guess it just kind of spun out of control," Army Sgt. 1st Class Scott Faile said.
The Faile family, now stationed at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Ga., was chosen by the Columbia Metropolitan Airport to be honored as the "Military Family of the Game." But Tammy Faile, 41, originally from Kershaw, S.C, along with two of their three children, Breanna, 15, and Cameron, 10, had no idea how big a surprise was in store for them during the halftime ceremony.
After the Faile's were taken onto the field and introduced to the stadium, a video that Scott Faile had recorded while stationed in South Korea for his family was displayed on the big board for the entire stadium to view.
"I really would like to be there to watch the Gamecocks beat up on Georgia," Faile said in his message. "Just keep in mind my tour is over soon."
And with the conclusion of the video, Sgt. Faile appeared on the sidelines, surprising his family at home for the first time in a year.
"I had absolutely no idea. I mean, I didn't even have a thought. That's what just made it so overwhelming," Faile said. "I think the entire stadium was in tears. Over 85,000 people were in tears."
Sgt. Faile had returned home from South Korea, after completing his third tour of duty. He had previously served in Afghanistan and Kuwait.
"I had been planning it for about three months," he said. "It was perfect timing, they had no idea. I told them that I had entered them on the SEC [Southeastern Conference] website, which was total fiction. That I had entered a drawing for tickets to the Georgia game."
Faile gives all the credit to Kaela Harmon, public relations manager with Columbia Metropolitan Airport and the University of South Carolina, for helping him pull off the elaborate surprise.
"It felt pretty good," he said. "It took a lot of planning. Mrs. Kaela told my family, 'Oh yeah, y'all won. That's how it all started.
"All this came from one email. I went onto the University of South Carolina website and I looked up about 50 emails and I sent one mass email out asking if this could be done, and I guess one of them was the right email, and this all just started rolling."
The family has been flooded with attention since their unexpected homecoming, but couldn't be happier about having their father and husband home.
"I'm overwhelmed," Tammy Faile said. "But other than that I'm awesome. A lot of people go through this. This was the third time he was gone. I'm enjoying the fact everyone's getting to see this. A lot of families go through this, and it's just nice for the happy times to be shown."
Even the opposing team's fans were supportive of the family.
"Even Georgia fans were just completely happy they were at that game when this happened. They were crying, also," she added. "That made it special for them, even though we did beat them."
The Failes are self-proclaimed "born and bred Gamecock fans." The surprise homecoming was the only thing that could have made beating the Georgia Bulldogs 35-7 even sweeter.
"We're just over the moon," she said. "He's such an awesome man. For him to do something like this, the words that he said on that video, he just completely blew me away.
"I know how wonderful he is, but now the whole world knows."
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