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Local soldier surprises children for Christmas

Sunday, December 23, 2012

One group of brothers and sisters got an early Christmas present when their father unexpectedly surprised them after returning from Afghanistan.

Warden hugs one of his twins after they opened their last big Christmas present to find their father was home on leave from Afghanistan.
U.S. Army Sgt. Raymond Warden's children open their Christmas presents, not knowing they will see their father in just a few short seconds.
U.S. Army Sgt. Raymond Warden, of Newbern, Tenn., hadn't seen his children since his deployment to Afghanistan in April. As Christmas approached, Warden and his family thought it would be great to surprise his two sons and three daughters by having them unwrap him as a present.

Warden, a member of the Dyer County High School class of 2003, is stationed at Camp Phoenix, just outside of Kabul, Afghanistan. He has been in the Army since 2004 and is in charge of radio communications for his building at the camp. He said his family came up with the idea to surprise the children for Christmas and he played along.

"I just want to see their reaction," said Warden. "I love them to death and it makes me happy to know that I'm home with them."

So, after making the long trip from Afghanistan to Newbern, Warden was excited to see his children, but not until they first got a visit form Santa Claus. Santa met the children at the Dyer County Rescue Squad and gave them all presents. After they finished opening them they got to unwrap one big present that was waiting for them. When they pulled the flaps open they got to see their dad for the first time after nine long months. The children were surprised and yelled, "Daddy!" Warden gave them all hugs and cherished being able to see and hug his children.

Sgt. Warden poses with his children and Santa after surprising them. From left: Ien (age 4), Haley (age 6), Katie (age 2), Sgt. Warden, Josie (sitting on lap)(age 2), Bradley (age 5), and Santa.
Afterward, Warden said the experience was one he will always cherish.

"It was exciting," said Warden.

Warden is home on leave until around the first of January, after which time he will go back to Afghanistan. He said he is also going to be re-enlisting next year so he can continue to serve his country.

"I'll go wherever the Army sends me," said Warden.

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Pretty cool, welcome home.

-- Posted by Chrisbivens on Sun, Dec 23, 2012, at 3:53 PM

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