James Gerig gets big hugs from his children, Gavyn and Carsyn, after a surprise homecoming April 28 in Green Lake schools’ gym.
James Gerig gets big hugs from his children, Gavyn and Carsyn, after a surprise homecoming April 28 in Green Lake schools’ gym.

James Gerig spent his first night back from basic training on his mother-in-law’s couch, less than half a mile from his home where his three children were sleeping.

It wasn’t because he didn’t want to see them. He’d been away for four months, without phone or internet access.

But James and his wife, Brittny, were planning something special with the Green Lake schools, counting on the payoff to be worth an extra few hours wait.

“I kept asking him, ‘Are you sure you want to hide and not just come home?’” Brittny said.

James was sure. After arriving April 28 around 2:30 a.m. in Green Lake, he slipped a stone’s throw down the street to the schools’ building around a quarter after 7, before any children could spot him. ...

Along with their classmates, the Gerigs’ school-aged children, Gavyn, 9, and Carsyn, 7, shuffled into the gym. Perhaps they wondered why their mother, little brother Bowyn and grandmother Penny Reyes were on hand, or maybe they just took it for granted. ...

The children were placed facing a closet in the gym, which they were told contained their prize.

And out stepped James.

Read the full story in the May 18, 2017 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.