Sgt. 1st Class Robert Vandenberg had never seen his youngest son in person, but that changed Wednesday night thanks to a surprise homecoming during an Anaheim Ducks Hockey game.
Vandenberg’s wife Patricia -- who was at the game with couple’s 17-month-old son Robert and their newborn son Travis -- thought she was going to see and talk her husband on a Honda Center scoreboard, but the family was unable to communicate due to apparent technical difficulties.
That was all part of the plan, however.
As his wife was handing over the microphone following the failed video meeting, Vandenberg was walking down the steps of the arena to surprise his family.
The emotional homecoming was the first time Vandenberg had ever met his son Travis in person.
It was also the first time he had seen his family in almost a year since being deployed.
Vandenberg's 419th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion was deployed to Afghanistan in February after a ceremony at the Tustin Armed Forces Reserve Center, according to the Army's media website.
"Thank you for bringing him home to me in such a special way! Thank you to all the Soldiers of the 419th for a job well done! Welcome home and Merry Christmas!" Patricia Vandenberg wrote on the battalion's Facebook page.