Dec 20, 2012 11:54 PM by Maddie Garrett
"Home for the holidays" has a whole new meaning for one Acadiana family, as they are reunited for the first time in months. Master Sergeant Jeremy Bellard has been in Afghanistan since June, and Thursday night his children received the greatest Christmas gift of all: His surprise homecoming.
Thursday night, parents gathered for the Our Mother of Peace Elementary School Christmas play in Church Point. But for Jade (13), Addison (8) and Cayden Bellard (5), one parent was missing.
That was until he emerged from a giant box at the end of the assembly as their biggest Christmas gift of all.
"This is the best Christmas gift I could ever have," said Jeremy.
His daughter Jade said she was "So excited, when he (principal) said Afghanistan I knew he was coming."
A standing ovation and tears of joy greeted the Bellards as they hugged their dad for the first time in six months.
"It was amazing, it was amazing. I just couldn't wait to see their faces, she (Addison) would dream about him every night she said," Jeremy's wife Dawn said afterward.
Jeremy said this was all last minute, he wasn't even sure he was going to be home for Christmas.
"Especially not knowing if I would make it back for Christmas or not, and then to be able to come in a way like this, this is huge," he said.
Principal Don Courville helped organize the surprise. As a veteran, Courville said he knows the joy of coming home.
"It just touched my heart, you could see it in their eyes. It's Christmas and you know it's what it's all about," said Courville.
Jeremy has spent 14 years in the military and served three tours of duty. This homecoming will be his last because Jeremy is home for good. There's only way to describe their feelings: "happy... Very happy," said his youngest, Cayden and Addison.
Jeremy added, "It's the greatest feeling in the world," as he hugged and gave his son a kiss on the cheek.