By Melissa Newton, CBS 11 News

DENTON ( – Two young brothers in Denton got an unexpected Christmas gift Thursday.

Their father, an Army sergeant, returned from Qatar and paid a surprise visit to them at their school, Woodrow Wilson Elementary.

Sgt. Phillip Grant is halfway through his third deployment to the Middle East.

He hasn’t seen his wife or his three children, Micah, 7, Caleb, 5, and Tristan, 2, in six months.

“For all three of my kids , this is the first time I’ve been away from them at the same time.” Sgt. Grant said. “It’s just hard to tell them ‘it’s not your fault, it’s part of my job, but I will be home,’ so it’s always tough on families.”

The soldier is back in Texas for two weeks of R&R.

His two oldest sons had no idea he was coming home until he walked through the door of their school cafeteria during their holiday program Thursday afternoon.

“Surprised,” Micah said shyly, “I’ve been kind of missing him a thousand.”

“I really miss him!” Caleb said, after the emotional reunion.

“Caleb ran up on me and jumped right up on my arms,” Sgt. Grant recalled, “It really was an overwhelming experience.”

“I didn’t even say we had a surprise, I didn’t want a hint of them knowing anything,” Grant’s wife Stephanie said. “They’ve missed their dad as much as I have, if not more.”

For the father of three, the family reunion was long overdue.

“I’m really thankful just being able to be here for the holidays with my family.” He said. “It’s a great Christmas present, I think it just meant more this year than in other years.”

With a long hug, kisses and a few tears, Micah, Caleb, and Tristan got the one gift Santa couldn’t bring them: their daddy, home in time for Christmas.

Sgt. Grant will return to Qatar in two weeks to finish his deployment, which ends in July.

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