One birthday gift this little girl won't soon forget.
Coast Guard Birthday Surprise
Credit: Education Images/Getty Images

It's a pretty cool bragging right to say your dad is in Alaska serving in the Coast Guard as a head chef. It's even more special when pops surprises you in your fourth-grade classroom on your birthday.

Such was the case for 10-year-old Makayla, a fourth grader at First Baptist Christian School in Stuart, Florida. Her Dad, Travis Hickman has been away with the Coast Guard since last Christmas and hadn't seen his daughter in nearly a year. As a special birthday surprise, he was able to travel the 17 hours back to Florida and then stay at a hotel in West Palm Beach, so he could greet her at school on her big day.

While the touching video from WPTV is filled with smiles and happy tears, it's also important to remember how hard the distance can be on the whole family. For military families, it's not just the deployed who serve. The whole family does. "I don't think people understand how tremendous of a sacrifice it is," wife and mom Sylvia Hickman commented. "Not just for himself, but for the rest of us. For myself, for the kids, it's pretty difficult."

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"It's priceless. So priceless to see her so happy," the teary mother added. It was certainly a birthday for the record books—one that Makayla and her whole family can cherish for many years to come.