GAITHERSBURG, Md. (WDVM) – -It’s the ultimate surprise for a young girl out of Montgomery County who had a hard time for the past year since her dad, a US Army soldier, was deployed to Kuwait.

This little girl thinks her mother is pulling her out of class for a doctor’s appointment, but what she doesn’t know is that she’s about to see her dad for the first time in over a year. Major Troy Wheeler, Army Reserve, was deployed in Kuwait for a year. Just in time for Labor Day, he has returned home to surprise his 8 year-old girl, Mende. “Not having me around was very cumbersome,” Major Wheeler said.

Mende had a hard time since her dad left, and to make matters worse, she had to stay home due to the pandemic. “Was a little painful to hear her cry, but today made it all worth it,” Wheeler expressed. He understands the hardships families face when their loved ones have to spend so much time away.

“We talk about what soldiers do when they are deployed, but we often forget the burden the families have to carry while we’re gone,” Wheeler stated.

He’s not expected to deploy again.

After serving 21 years, Major Wheeler is ready to spend more time at home with his wife and daughter.