Nine-year-old Skylar Johnson had just spelled the word sergeant correctly at her school's spelling bee when her father, a real life sergeant serving in Iraq, appeared from behind the curtain.
What began as another routine day at the girl's Boca Raton, Fla. elementary school turned into one of the best days of her life.
Skylar hadn't seen her father, Army National Guard Med-Evac Staff Sgt. Therron Johnson, since last Christmas. Since then, the military dad has been on duty in southern Iraq.
After Skylar answered the spelling bee question correctly, she was asked if there were any special sergeants in her life. She answered, My dad.
Your dad? Wow, her dad is a sergeant, her teacher told the class. That's kind of funny because today we have a very special sergeant here, he said as Skylar's father reached out from behind her and gave her a hug.
The young girl turned around in tears at the sight of her dad.
Johnson said he did a lot of advanced planning for his trip home, even changing the date to make the elaborate plan work.
I kind of messed up and told them I was going to be home at the end of September, which was correct, but because of the spelling bee thing that we created, I had to change it and tell them, you know, something different. So it worked out, he told CBS 12.
The spelling bee itself was all part of the plan hatched to surprise Skylar. Boca Raton Elementary School changed schedules around and created their first ever spelling bee for the occasion to make Johnson's homecoming a very special moment.
I couldn't wait, Johnson told CBS 12. I was behind the curtain and I kept telling the lady operating the curtain, one of their assistants there, 'Open the curtain, I'm ready.' You know? She was only like three feet in front of me. We were that close, but the curtain separated us and she didn't' even know.
Skylar described the meeting as a dream that came to real life.
The family is taking time off before Johnson has to go back to Iraq.
Unfortunately, Johnson is only home for nine days. But for Skylar, all that mattered was that her dad was home.
Coincidentally, Johnson leaves on his daughter's 10th birthday.
I really hope he didn't' get me a present, Skylar told CBS 12, Because this one, you can't beat.
Check out the heartwarming video below: