A "Christmas miracle" came true on " Good Morning America" today when a U.S. Army captain was reunited with his family after nearly a year away on deployment.
Capt. Gerardo Garcia has been deployed four times to Afghanistan. His most recent deployment kept him away from his family in California - wife Andrea and kids Marc, 10, Ali, 6, and Andres, 3 - for nearly a year.
While Garcia has been away fighting on the frontlines, Andrea Garcia has held down the fort at home, acting as a single parent while also going to school to obtain her nursing degree.
"Their dad's a role model for them there and I need to be a role model for them here," she told "GMA." "It was important for me to go to school and better myself and they can see that mommy can make a difference while their dad's gone."
Although Andrea Garcia describes the situation as "hard," the multitasking mom did find time to plan the surprise of a lifetime for her husband.
Capt. Garcia has been based at Ft. Huachuca in Cochise County, Ariz., since his return from Afghanistan. While he knew he'd be home for the holidays, his family decided to give him an early Christmas surprise by traveling to the base from their California home.
Andrea Garcia and the couple's children surprised Capt. Garcia on "GMA" while he thought he was in front of the cameras to tape a holiday "hoo-ah" to his fellow soldiers still in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"Elaborate posts on Facebook, that's exactly what I did to take off this plan," Andrea Garcia said after the successful surprise. "And, luckily, he trusts me so much that it was very believable."
While his wife and kids beamed beside him, Capt. Garcia himself was speechless.
"I don't have anything to say because I'm totally caught off guard right now," he said. "I'm still kind of shocked, believe it or not. I think of all the things we've done in the last year, this is probably the most chaotic one."
The Garcias said they are looking forward to the weekend pancake breakfasts and the little moments they've missed in the past year.
"They don't get to see their dad in the morning or to say, 'Hi, how was your day?' or get their dad to make them pancakes that he used to every Sunday," Andrea Garcia told "GMA." "[The] things that normal parents do for their kids."
For daughter Ali, 6, seeing her dad this Christmas might top even a visit from Santa Claus.
"This is a Christmas miracle," she said.
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