Of course, there were tears.
Two children at Midway Middle School and Hewitt Elementary School in Texas thought their mother was still deployed thousands of miles away in Kuwait. However, on Monday, November 13, Daxton and JaiceyBelle Hunter, received a sweet holiday surprise from their hero mom, Sgt. Lacey Poltoratskiy. The two siblings, unbeknownst to them, ended up reuniting with their mom in between classes, and the heartwarming homecoming came at the perfect moment—just in time for Thanksgiving.
Lacey and her husband Pavel Poltoratskiy, who also serves in the U.S. Army, had both been deployed for nine months overseas. Their children were living with Lacey’s parents in Waco, Texas, while they were both in Kuwait. So Lacey set about planning the ultimate ruse, in conjunction with school officials, to make this heartwarming reunion extra special.
Her first surprise visit was to her son Daxter’s school, Hewitt Elementary. He was told that there would be a guest coming to speak to his kindergarten class. The little boy had no idea it would be his mom. When the Fort Hood soldier walked into his classroom wearing her fatigues, all Daxton could do was cry tears of joy.
"I started crying before we even walked down the hall in anticipation," Lacey told ABC News. "I was trying to keep myself together so I wouldn’t walk in the classroom bawling in front of a bunch of kindergarteners. All the kids were sitting on the carpet and their heads turned and I heard him yell, 'Mommy!' as soon as I walked in there. Being able to finally hug on him was wonderful. He was crying."
After the tearful homecoming with her son, Lacey’s next stop was to her seventh-grade daughter’s school at Midway Middle. Normally, the students at the school get to see their beloved panther mascot at school assemblies and games. But on Monday, JaiceyBelle didn’t realize the woman behind the furry, black mask was someone she knew and loved: her mom.
Like with Daxton, once Lacey removed the costume head, the tears began to flow between the mother and daughter.
"I was already crying in the mask," said Lacey. "JaiceyBelle likes the flair and the drama. I was excited because I knew the big surprise would resonate well. They arranged her to stand next to me and I reached over and started poking on her and messing with her because I couldn’t, not with her [standing] that close."
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Now that the long-awaited hugs have been given and the tears have stopped falling, Lacey and her family are anticipating spending Thanksgiving all together in Waco now that she and Pavel are both home.
Lacey wanted to give her two kids a surprise they wouldn’t soon forget. A few days in, she can certainly declare, "Mission accomplished."