Christmas came early for soldier returning from Iraq

Written by Stephanie Rosso, CNN As Americans prepare to give thanks in the coming days, one very special family couldn’t wait until next year to celebrate. On November 24, 2017, First Sergeant Mark Schnitzler…

Christmas came early for soldier returning from Iraq

Written by Stephanie Rosso, CNN

As Americans prepare to give thanks in the coming days, one very special family couldn’t wait until next year to celebrate.

On November 24, 2017, First Sergeant Mark Schnitzler from Riverdale, New York, got a surprise call from his high school sweetheart, Lisa Thompson.

“I don’t usually put things together until six months or even later,” Schnitzler told CNN.

Schnitzler, who lives in Colorado with his wife Kristine and two sons, has been stationed in Kuwait since July. Thompson, who now lives in New York, had always assumed that he would be on duty at that time.

Now that he will be coming home, the Schnitzlers decided to surprise their families. They planned the whole thing out with the help of the Riverdale High School and Army.

Thompson found out they were going to surprise her family for Thanksgiving through Facebook. The family photos that were posted on November 16, 2017, went viral. The photos show several members of the family, including brothers and sisters, as well as her mother, dressed in matching outfits with army hats and T-shirts. One of the participants wore a dead-center, belted long sleeved black top.

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The family “weren’t expecting anyone at all,” said Schnitzler. “It was a lot for everyone to take in and they were all really excited.”

For the date of their flight, the family planned to call their friend’s mother in Waterbury, Connecticut. They had texted her and asked to have the conversation over the phone, not expecting to get an actual phone call.

“She didn’t even understand why I wanted to play that small of a game with her,” said Schnitzler. “We texted every day and every time she asked why we wanted to play games over the phone. Then one day I received a phone call — two girls that were in my class — and she asked me to come home.”

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The call was more than Schnitzler expected. His mother had been recorded speaking to Thompson and then gave the call to her son.

“First of all, she looks so beautiful and then she is so ditzy! She was just sweet,” said Schnitzler.

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After the big reveal, the family had a long thank you and hug.

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