CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Army Spc. Kevin Gantt of Chandler has been serving overseas for the past three years. The last time he hugged his little daughter, she was just 3 years old. She's a big girl now, a 6-year-old kindergartener.
Gantt is home on a 15-day leave to spend Christmas with his family, but Jade Marie didn't know until he turned up, teddy bear in hand, at her school Wednesday morning.
Gibby Parra tagged along for the emotional reunion, which happened live on 3TV.
After a stunned second, Jade ran into her father's arms for the big hug she's wanted for three years.
"I came to spend Christmas with you," Gantt told her.
"She's so, so happy," Jade's mother told Parra. "She's been waiting patiently. She so young, she doesn't understand why her dad can't be with her. I'm so happy that she has the opportunity to spend Christmas with him for the first time in a very, very long time."
According to Jade's grandmother, Jade dreamed of having her dad walk into her classroom at Chandler's Humphries Elementary School. With the help of school officials, that dream came true.
Jade, however, wasn't the only one who was surprised.
"I was a little surprised, myself," Gantt said. "She's gotten so big over the time. ... I saw the look on her face and it was priceless."
Gantt says he going to spend as much time as possible with Jade before heading back to his post in Germany.