"It's great to have dad home. We love him. We pray for him and we love him so much that he didn't get hurt. We pray for him all the time," Jacob Yates, one of U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Byron Yates' sons, told WFTS-TV.
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Disney World Reunion with Army Dad 1
Credit: Shannon Fries Photography

Disney World was a little more magical than usual on the morning of Thursday, January 16th, when U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Byron Yates, of Pinellas County, Florida, surprised his five kids at the Orlando theme park. As ABC's WFTS-TV, out of Tampa, Florida reported, Staff Sergeant Yates returned from a year-long deployment to Syria earlier this month. In all, Yates has served in the army for a total of 13 years in the Aviation Medivac Unit based out of Clearwater, Florida.

Since his kids weren't expecting his return to the states until March, he was able to surprise them while they enjoyed quality time with their mom and Byron's wife, Samantha Yates, at the amusement park. As the family posed in costumes and amidst Disney World character actors for the camera, little did the kids know, but Yates was soon going to walk up behind them and join them. Once they saw their dad, it's clear the kids were ecstatic.

These special memories were captured on camera, Shannon Fries of Shannon Fries Photography was on hand to document the emotional family reunion. "I was so honored to be a part of this amazing homecoming. I always pray before a session for God to lead my lens and capture pure moments of joy and He provided," Fries shared with Southern Living. "This was my first military homecoming session that I was able to document, and I was brought to tears from being able to witness this reunion! I am so thankful for the Yates family and to be able to provide them with memories of a magical moment at the most magical place on earth."

"It's great to have dad home. We love him. We pray for him and we love him so much that he didn't get hurt. We pray for him all the time," Jacob Yates, one of the couple's sons told WFTS-TV.

Army Dad Disney Reunion 2
Credit: Shannon Fries Photography
Army Dad Reunion Disney World 3
Credit: Shannon Fries Photography

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What an incredible way to surprise your kids after returning back safely to American soil. We're grateful for your service, Staff Sergeant Yates, and we're grateful we can share in a bit of your family's joy with this beautiful photo shoot.