BALTIC, Conn. (WTNH) -- The students at the Sayles School in the Baltic section of Sprague are used to seeing their beloved mascot Mustang at school assemblies.
But at Wednesday's military appreciation event the man behind the mask is someone special.
"I'm excited I"m nervous," says Yarinette Grosswiler whose husband, a sailor aboard the USS Pittsburgh, is hiding in that Mustang costume. "I'm not sure how the kids will react."
Their kids are about to get the surprise of their life. Joshua Grosswiler came home from a six month deployment on Friday and has been hidden away from his kids since then. He and his wife spent the weekend in New York. The whole ruse took quite a bit of coordination.
"Today he was at the house so we had to keep him upstairs until my daughter got off the bus," says Yarinette. "She's in Pre-K and then my sister had to come and pick her up and get her out of the house so he can get ready."
At the assembly principal Diana Burns announces to the students "Mustang is telling me that there's another service member I forgot to honor. Are you sure?"
That service member is Grosswiler who revealed himself by taking off the head of the mascot costume.
"Come to me my jungle friends," he calls out to the kids.
His son William is the first one to run up to his dad for that long awaited hug.
"Would Sophia and Joshua come on up." says Burns. Joshua and then Sophia also join their dad at the font of the gymnasium to give him a hug. "Hi baby girl," Grosswiler tells his daughter Sophia.
"Ladies and gentlemen I'd like to introduce Chief Joshua Grosswiler of the United States Navy. Please give him a standing ovation," says Burns. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.
"Oh it was amazing," says Grosswiler. "I was so nervous I could lay and egg and of course I was sweating so I was real close to laying that egg."
The Grosswilers wanted to give their kids a homecoming they wouldn't forget. Mission accomplished.
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