Soldier returns to U.S., stuns his two children | News
CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. -- Last Saturday, Cherokee County held a half-marathon that looked just like any other... except for the enormous surprise that took place right before it.
Sgt. 1st Class Scott McElroy used the event as a chance to surprise his two kids with his return from overseas.
"I've missed birthdays, missed ball games," Sgt. McElroy said. "[My kids] just keep you driving on."
Sgt. McElroy went straight from high school to the Navy and then the Georgia National Guard. He has served in Venezuela, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Iraq.
But with every trip, he has an increasingly difficult time being away from his two children, teenager Halee and 9-year-old Sam.
"It's never easy going away for that period of time," Sgt. McElroy said. "My two children, they're at very pivotal times in their lives right now, and they're at that time when they really need their dad at home."
But last year their dad had to go away again, this time to Kosovo. In February he suffered injuries that had him transported out of the country and prevented him from rejoining his unit. Instead, McElroy recovered alone overseas, with his thoughts on his kids.
"They change," he said, "And you'd like to think you keep up with the changes over Facetime and the phone conversations, but until you're actually within arms' reach, you don't realize the changes and how they have grown."
Once McElroy knew he could head home, he decided he would do it in a way his children would never forget. Organizers set up a half-marathon to honor him -- a "shadow run", they called it. Only a few people knew the man they were shadowing was waiting in the shadows to surprise them.
And when Sgt. McElroy appeared, his son Sam screamed, "Dad!" and, along with daughter Halee, embraced his father for a good minute before letting go.
"There's nothing more important in my life than my two children," McElroy said afterward. "To be back within arm's reach of them is truly emotional."