JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Staff Sergeant Kyle Hart has been serving the United States Air Force in Japan for a handful of years.
He had not seen his brother Nolan McDonald, a freshman at Science Hill High School, in almost five years.
“Honestly, I didn’t think I would be able to see him for another two or three years,” McDonald said.
That all changed Saturday at Kermit Tipton Stadium.
Mcdonald had just finished performing the halftime show of the Hilltoppers’ football game against Daniel Boone. The public address announcer explained to everyone that there was a special guest to welcome.
Hart stepped out and embraced his brother as he began to cry tears of joy.
“I had no clue at all,” McDonald said. “The ironic part about this – I asked my mom actually two days before this actually happened when the next I would see him. And then ironically – ask and ye shall receive.”
When Nolan’s mother, Stephanie McDonald, found out Kyle was coming home, she knew they had to surprise him. Once the Science Hill football game was postponed from Friday night until Saturday afternoon, a plan started to take shape.
“It literally did not finalize until 4:30 Saturday morning when we returned back home from picking Kyle up,” she said.
But it was worth it – seeing that plan and that moment come to fruition.
“Absolute proud moment for a parent – see, I’m tearing up now,” she said. “It was an overwhelming response.”
McDonald has five sons, and even as one spends nearly all of his time halfway around the world, she is amazed and grateful for the bond they share.
“It is completely indescribable to know that you’ve got someone who is thousands of miles away and picks up the phone and calls and tells brothers ‘Great job. Good job on that cross country run, Garrett. You beat your time. Working on that seven-mile,'” she said. “It’s just one of those things that as a parent – you live for days like that.”
“Me hearing that from someone other than my parents, someone who doesn’t have a parental role, but as a big brother,” McDonald said, “it’s really special.”
Hart has been home for less than 48 hours, but already his family has settled into having him back.
“Honestly just spending time with him at this point, because I haven’t been able to do that such a long time,” his brother said. “That’s something that I’ve really missed. Just talking to him – just being there with him.”