Written by Michael Crowe, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
GRUNDY CENTER (KWWL) -
Many people serving in the Armed Forces have to spend the Holidays away from their families, but one Grundy Center family received an unexpected gift this year.
When Pfc. Riley Wells joined the Marines this year, his parents knew there would be sacrifices.
"It's our first Christmas apart," said Misty Wells, Riley's mother. "He was only 17 when he left. He's just still so young."
Wells was stationed in California and didn't have leave to come home for Christmas. But then, his schedule changed. He secretly booked a flight and arranged for his parents to meet some friends at the local diner.
Much to his parents' surprise, instead of their waitress, their son brought them their food.
"I knew my mom was going to freak out, and I knew there were going to be some tears," he said. "My dad, I think he was just in shock."
"I just couldn't believe he was there," said Misty Wells. "I thought it was just a joke. I didn't even realize I screamed."
They hadn't seen their son in months. But while he was away, he'd been working hard. He recently graduated from the School of Infantry -- top of his class.
The reunion meant a lot because Riley's unit will deploy in July.
"We know he won't be here next Christmas so that made it even more important to be together this Christmas," Misty said.
Every family wants to be together on Christmas, but for the Wells, it might be a while before they are together for the Holiday so Riley's gift was better than anything under the tree.
"Just the look on my mom's face, I think that was the best thing I got out of it," he said. "The best surprise was just seeing everybody there."
After the surprise reunion, the family had to convince everyone in the diner to keep the secret for a few more days, because they wanted to surprise the grandparents as well.
Riley says he's thankful to everyone that helped him surprise his parents.
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