After a yearlong deployment in the Middle East, Sgt. Perry Chronister returned home to Ohio where he surprised his 7-year-old son on the first day of school.
He was dressed up in a tiger mascot costume which enabled him to get in the classroom and close to his son before revealing himself. The family reunion moment was caught on video and Sgt. Perry Chronister would later describe it as ‘magical.’
Wearing the tiger costume was a teacher’s idea. Sgt. Perry Chronister told Cleveland’s WKYC Channel 3 how the teacher said “how about you put on the mascot costume and we’ll have you come in and wave at the kids a little bit’ and we did the big reveal.”
Dad called it ‘the best feeling, the best moment’ he’s ever had.
— Bri Buckley (@BriBuckleyTV) August 19, 2023
Chronister said he was nervous and fighting back tears prior to revealing himself after not seeing his son for a year. He was deployed for a year in the Middle East with the Ohio Army National Guard 107th Calvary Regiment. Eli, his son, said he ‘was shocked’ when his dad popped out of the costume.
According to Sgt. Perry Chronister, Wi-Fi wasn’t always available where he was stationed in the Middle East. And he would have to go long periods of time without seeing or talking to his son, something he called ‘very hard.’ Now that they’re reunited, they are on a family trip this week to make up for lost time.
The reunion video has since gone viral on Twitter/YouTube/Social Media after it was filmed from all angles by the teachers in the room. Chronister said “it’s been a long year” but he’s just “so thankful” to be back with his son.