PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In Afghanistan, Lance Cpl. Cory Lemasters was asked by his superiors if he liked the Steelers.
He told them he loved the Steelers and from that moment on, a secret operation was underway.
He arrived in Pittsburgh three days ago, unbeknownst to family and friends, making sure he didn’t give away his whereabouts on social media, maintaining a military top secret.
He admits as he waited to be announced to the crowd a Heinz Field tunnel during the Steelers-Bengals game, he was nervous. He was shaking, but not necessarily because of nerves.
“Well my legs were shaking cause it was so cold and right there I was just, I was nervous because of all the people around and it was just pretty nerve-racking,” he said.
But once he saw his family: “Once I saw them I couldn’t stop smiling.”
And they couldn’t stop crying.
Angela Reber, his mother, said they expected at best to see him on a big screen from overseas, and get some kind of plaque honoring his service.
“We were just going to go down on the field and see him on the screen and he was going to say a message and that was going to be it but then they said turn around and the fireworks went off and the steam came out and there he came,” she said.
“We didn’t know,” she said. “It was a big surprise and that’s like the best Christmas present anybody could have.”
His stepmother Stephanie Lemasters was caught up in the moment too.
“Joy, excitement,” she said. “I wanted to tackle him and I think I did. Just to get to him, put my arms around him, to kiss him to hold him and just squeeze him.”
His teachers at Brentwood High said he always wanted to be a marine. He graduated in June of 2012 and went off to the Marines a few days later. His father Gary Lemasters’ Facebook page has a picture with his son, wearing a T-shirt with the words, “My son, my hero.” Cory returns to Afghanistan at the end of the month.
What did his dad say when he was surprised at Heinz Field?
With a laugh, the father replied, “I remember what I said but I can’t say it on camera.”
But as the family looked forward to Christmas, they didn’t keep their good fortune to themselves. After the interview the family wanted to send a message to all military families, led by Cory himself.
“We would like to recognize the dedicated military and their families for the holidays,” Cory said. “From our family to yours,” then the family joined in, “Thank you and Merry Christmas!”
Cory’s stepmother Stephanie Lemasters knows too well the challenges military families can face. Her own brother, Sgt. William Lisica, an Army veteran fighting brain cancer.
Her family is raising funds for his cause through the Give Forward campaign at: