PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A picture of Senior Airmen Justin Smith on the big screen at PNC Park was what the Smith family thought they were going to see before Friday night’s Pittsburgh Pirates game.
But they got the surprise of their lives when Sr. Airman Smith himself came walking out of the tunnel and onto the field. His family ran over as soon as they realized he was home and wouldn’t let go.
“I haven’t touched him since last June. He was able to come to his grandfather’s funeral last time I saw him,” said mother Kay Smith.
“I’m shaking. I still can’t believe it. I pulled it off. It’s been a long time coming. Just thankful everything went well and got home safe. That’s all that matters,” said Sr. Airman Smith.
He has been in South Korea for the last 11 months working for the 51st Maintenance Squadron at the Osan Air Base, and was scheduled to be there until later this summer. When he found out he was able to come home early, he wanted to surprise his parents.
“They all guessed. My little sister guessed. My mom guessed. They said he’s going to be there. We know you’re going be there. Just tell us you’re going to be there,” said Sr. Airman Smith.
The Smith family brought along 90 friends and family for the big day, so the Pirates hosted a pre-game picnic at the Skull Bar, and that’s where Sr. Airman Smith went to party with his family after the big reveal.
“I can’t wait to get up there and have a beer with my son. It’s been a long time coming,” said father Forrest Smith.
“It’s so nice. He’s home and he’s safe. That’s what counts. We’re happy to have him back,” said sister Rachel Geis.