MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Stillwater dad home from Afghanistan Tuesday gave his son a surprise birthday present he’ll never forget.

Derek Kirby, 6, hadn’t seen his dad in nearly a year. Spc. Gary Kirby surprised him by wrapping himself up in a box at his birthday party.

Derek’s birthday fell on the same day as the homecoming, but he had no idea his dad was home. When asked where he was he said, “Other side of the world.”

When it came time to open presents, Derek tore the paper and greeted his dad with a “hi” and a big hug.

Kirby and Derek say they’re most looking forward to the morning when they can eat cereal and watch cartoons together.

Members of the Minnesota National Guard 849th Mobility Augmentation Company arrived in Litchfield Tuesday afternoon. That’s where Kirby met his other son, four-month old Arley, for the first time.

The unit was responsible for clearing explosives from supply routes in support of the Afghan National Security Forces. Five members of the company were hurt during an attack on Forward Operating Base Pasab in Kandahar Province last January. All survived.


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