Soldier travels 7,000 miles to surprise family for Christmas

MIAIMISBURG, Ohio (WDTN) – A local soldier surprised his family Friday with a special trip home just in time for the holidays.

Army serviceman David Cherolis has been stationed in Afghanistan for the last 8 months. Recently, he got word he could home so him and his wife Mary planned a special surprise for their two kids 4-year-old Leo and 6-year-old Luci at Kinder Elementary in Miamisburg. What they thought was a pancake dinner at the school turned into a reunion they’d never forget.

It was all smiles Friday as a father reunited with the ones he’d been missing most.

“A couple weeks ago we found out,” David Cherolis said. “We were going to be coming home about the approximate date and my wife really wanted to surprise the kids.”

“I had to plan something because I see all these homecomings,” Mary Cherolis said. “I find them to be so sweet and I’m always the one in tears when I see it so I had to make somebody else be in tears for once.”

That’s when Cherolis came up with plan, placing her husband behind the counter and their daughter 6-year-old Luci and son 4-year-old Leo in line to be served.

U.S. Army Staff Sergeant David Cherolis has been deployed 3 times.

“It is kinda tough,” Mary Cherolis said. “But you take it day by day.”

His 8-month-long deployment to Afghanistan was the first every being deployed with children–making it by far the toughest of them all.

“There’s definitely days where you wish there,” Mary Cherolis said. “Was somebody else around the house.”

“When you have kids it’s amazing,” David Cherolis said. “What you miss and you don’t really know until you are gone with a family.”

A family now reunited with their American hero is spending the holidays together, catching up on lost time.

“There’s gonna be no work,” David Cherolis said. “I have a long honey do list I’m sure and we’re just going to work on reconnecting.”

The family says the Christmas tree is up. The family will get to spend Christmas together. David says he has no plans to head back to Afghanistan anytime soon. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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