A marine, who served overseas, surprised his younger brother and sister Friday at their school in New Hartford and the reunion was all caught by Eyewitness News cameras.
It started as a typical school day for Charles and Mary Barden. They went to their assembly Friday morning at Ann Antolini Elementary School and in celebration of Veterans Day many veterans were on hand during the presentation.
"I know we have students who have family serving right now," said the master of ceremonies.
What the brother and sister didn't know is who was waiting for them behind the scenes.
"They're going to be shocked," Lance Corporal Danny Coppinger-Donovan told Eyewitness News. "They don't know I'm here."
After serving 11 months in open seas, Coppinger-Donovan was not expected back home until Thanksgiving.
"We floated off the coast of a couple of countries who were receiving threats at the embassies. we were ready to go to support, reinforce and evacuate," Coppinger-Donovan said.
However, on Friday, he was on a mission to surprise his young siblings in his very own alma mater. The two had no idea what was going on when they were called to the front of the auditorium.
"I felt a hand on my shoulder and I turned around and Danny was there," said Mary Barden. "I'm so happy. I missed him."
The Coppinger-Donovans couldn't help, but be grateful for not only spending Veterans Day together. They will spend their birthdays along with Thanksgiving together as a family.
"All worth it to see my little brother and sister," Coppinger-Donovan said. "It's been hard. I love them dearly."
Coppinger-Donovan told Eyewitness News although things could change in a matter of moments. The plan for now is he will spend the holidays with his family. His next deployment is to Japan, but that won't happen until after this year.
A slideshow honoring all veteran family members of students in Ann Antolini Elementary School was shown to students Friday at the assembly.
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