JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Emerson, Savannah and Dylan Smith went to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens Wednesday to be photographed as part of a new marketing campaign for the zoo. Little did they know it was all a ploy for a reunion months in the making.
“It’s been six months since I saw my family,” said U.S. Navy Petty Officer First Class Casey Smith. “It’s surreal. You just kind of deal with things day to day out there so you don’t really think too much about this.”
As Smith’s three daughters and wife, Ashley, took photos on one end of the zoo’s railroad tracks, Smith boarded at the other.
When the train arrived, Smith snuck up behind his family on the platform. Cheers erupted from other passengers on the train as Emerson, Savannah and Dylan cried and clung to their dad in disbelief.
The girls didn’t think their dad would arrive home until Halloween.
“It’s just nice to know that he got home safely, and that he’s home, and that we can all be together again, and that they got their dad back and that I got my main man back,” Ashley, Casey’s wife, said.
Smith couldn’t keep his eyes off his daughters even after the surprise.
“I just want them to be happy and see those smiling faces,” he said.
Smith said he has no plans to ship out again and is looking forward to making up for lost time with his family.
What does that entail? If you ask Dylan, lots of trips to Disney World and Lego Land.