The last thing Samuel Gibson expected to get for his birthday was a hug from his mother, who has been stationed overseas for the last six months.
But when he walked into the gymnasium at Belmar Elementary School Wednesday afternoon, he was greeted by his two grandmothers and his military mom.
"Well, I felt like my heart might pump right out of my chest," Nine-Year-Old Gibson said with a smile.
The little boy has not seen his mother since Christmas when she was deployed to her home station in Fort Bragg, N.C. The following April, Spc. Cassie Gibson went to the Middle East.
"I've got pictures at work, I've got them in my room," she said. "We Skype- Skype is a good communication tool."
But pictures and Skype are just not enough for a loving parent- holding Samuel for the first time in months was, Spc. Gibson said, the best feeling ever.
"He just keeps me motivated and dedicated to my job. I mean, this is what I'm doing it for. It's for him."
Adding to that "best feeling" were Samuel's two grandmothers, who also took part in the surprise. After running to his "Mimi," the doors in the back of the gym opened as Samuel's mother knelt down to give him a hug.
"I was, like, crying behind the doors," Spc. Gibson added. "I was like, he's there- just not yet."
Spc. Gibson is with the 1-7 ADA as a mechanic. She joined the Army in 2010.
For the next two weeks of Spc. Gibson's R&R, she and her son plan to swim, eat a steak and spend time with Samuel's grandmothers.