Airman comes home to surprise kids at D-backs game

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- When Jackson Aguirre, 6, and his 5-year-old sister, Alanna, were brought to Monday night's Arizona Diamondbacks game to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, they had no idea a surprise was waiting for them behind home plate.

Lt. Col. Paul Aguirre spent the better part of the last year in Afghanistan with the Air National Guard. He told his children he would be home later this week. Instead, he flew three days straight to get to the Valley in time to surprise them at the Diamondbacks game.

Aguirre set up the surprise with the help of Diamondbacks staff. He wore a uniform and catcher's mask, and hid behind the dugout while his children walked onto the field.

As Jackson and Alanna watched a videotaped message from their father on the JumboTron, Aguirre crouched behind home plate. After the pitches, he tore off his mask. The crowd cheered as his stunned children paused for a second and then ran toward him.

"I had no idea what they were going to do," Aguirre said, "But I wasn't nervous because whatever it was would be OK."

Nearly 200 friends and family members were in the stands to watch the reunion.

While they and many others, including friends of Jackson and Alanna, knew of Aguirre's surprise plans, everybody kept the secret.