Pulling off a huge surprise is no easy task, but when it comes together perfectly and no one suspects a thing, it can be epic. Such was the case for U.S. Marine Dave Woodruff who had been away for two years, spending the last eight months deployed in Spain, but was coming home from service early.
Since no one knew he’d be back so soon, he was able to construct the perfect surprise for his family, with a little help from his friends.
The outcome was emotional and joyous in the end. His unsuspecting parents came to service at Christ the King Church in Deville, New Jersey, while Dave sat in his car in the parking lot and they took their seats.
His YouTube video begins with Dave touring about Spain and giving a look at his home while away, then he explains he’ll be surprising his family, noting that he’s “excited about that.”
Then the big day arrives, as Dave explains, “So this morning, I pulled up into a lot and I had to park about a hundred meters away and just sit in my car and wait for the word and I finally got the phone call that it was time to move in.”
He continued, “I ran across the parking lot and I got a quick brief on how everything was going to work…”
The pastor leads the service and while everyone in the congregation was standing, he announced: “We’ve got a little treat before I dismiss everyone. I’d like the kids to see… we just have a little clip, actually, that was sent to us by David Woodruff. It’s a greeting to our church… and then when that’s done, everyone’s dismissed.”
A video clip played showing Dave, wishing his dad a happy 53rd birthday. That in itself was a surprise his parents couldn’t have expected, but of course there was so much more. In the video, Dave said he had missed his father’s last two birthdays because of his military duty and wanted to do something special.
David’s video is heartfelt, as he introduces himself, saying, “Hello friends and families of CTK, as most of you know I have been deployed for about eight months now here in Spain.”
He continues, “As some of you know my dad’s 53rd birthday is coming up in a couple of days… and I’ve missed my dad’s past few birthdays because of deployments. I just want to say happy early birthday Dad. I love and miss you and I will be home before you know it.”
His parents are visibly moved by Dave’s message, but then the real surprise comes, as he says, “Oh, and one more thing…turn around…”
Everyone in the congregation turns — and Dave is standing there behind him. The crowd goes wild, clapping and cheering, as his parents look at him in disbelief.
They share long overdue hugs and it’s clear that Dave’s surprise was a runaway hit.
Among the many comments left on the video were those moved to tears, with one person sharing: “These are addictive to watch. Always the same results. Tears of joy watching these. May God bless you who serve.”