Sgt. First Class David Farrow of Bravo Battery 1-158, the last Oklahoma National Guard team deployed during Operation Enduring Freedom, returned home three months early to surprise his five children.
Farrow’s wife, Katherine, set up a photo shoot surprise with photographer Keelie Lipscomb to capture the reunion.
“Katherine said to me that he was supposed to be coming home in March. The kids had no idea,” Lipscomb said. “She asked me to just come up with a way to surprise them. So we did the door because it was cold outside and we wanted it to be kind of simple. The surprise of it was they thought they were going to have their pictures made to send him in Afghanistan. It was so cute because when they came into my studio they were so excited to take pictures for him.”
The children were astounded when their father walked through the door.
Bella, 12, the oldest daughter, was the most able of all the children to understand the danger her father faced while he was overseas.
“Bella, she’s the oldest, it actually blew her back,” Katherine Farrow, 32, said. “If you watch the video, she takes a step back immediately when she recognized him.”
Aidan, 9, was dumfounded with the possibility of his father’s presence.
“He couldn’t believe it was him. He just kind of froze in shock, because he knew he wasn’t supposed to be coming home until March so ‘How could Daddy be here?’ You could see his little brain working,” she said.
Benjamin, 5, was overcome with joy.
“Ben stepped back and just watched everyone hug him and was laughing and watching everyone get so excited, and then, as soon as he saw an opening, he ran to his daddy.”
The twin girls were so young when he deployed the family wasn’t sure what their response would be but Isla and Emmeline, 2, recognized and welcomed their dad.
“We were so worried about their reaction because they were so small when he left,” Katherine Farrow said. “But that’s the wonderful thing about deploying nowadays. There is Skype, there’s better ways to stay connected. We talked almost every day. We were worried about how they would react but they were so happy they did their little toddler dance, they shuffled their feet and lifted their arms to be picked up. You couldn’t ask for a better reaction.”
The video, which has now been seen by thousands, gave the family an additional surprise.
“Originally it wasn’t a video at all, she actually surprised us with the video, and she was so excited about the session that she offered to do it for us for free,” Farrow said.
Lipscomb said she was thrilled to be a part of the event, which she said touched her emotions
“It was such an emotional thing, the whole process. It was a really neat thing to be a part of,” Lipscomb said. “I am so grateful to them for letting me be a part of it.”
Lipscomb went on to say the interaction between father and children, after not seeing each other for so long, was so powerful it made her more appreciative of her own family.
David Farrow, 34, who’s a production controller at Fort Sill, said he was nervous about the surprise reunion. He wasn’t sure how his kids would react.
“I was actually nerve-wracked. I wasn’t sure if my kids would recognize me after I had been gone so long, especially the twins,” he said. “Then, when I got there – I don’t want to sound cliché – but I was just overcome with all the emotion and overwhelmed.”
He said that he was happy to have a separate reunion with his wife, who picked him up before the surprise reunion.
“There’s a difference in coming back to your wife and a reunion with your kids. I was glad that I could meet with them separately. I wasn’t thinking about what my platoon or my captain would be thinking.”
The Farrow family members said they were appreciative of the widespread words of kindness people have made about the video. The overwhelmingly positive response has helped soften the transition that sometimes accompanies a soldier’s return after a long deployment, they said.
The surprise homecoming video is available in its entirety on the Keeli Lipscomb Photography Facebook page.