Military Sons Receive Surprise of a Lifetime At Hannibal Church
In the exploding world of internet videos, few are more moving than when a soldier surprises his or her family with a homecoming. Hannibal saw its own service member homecoming over the weekend and I had the privilege of videotaping it.
Matt Wealer is a Sergeant First Class with the National Guard. For the last year, he's been serving our country in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Over the weekend, Matt finished his deployment and then conspired with his wife Camilla Ferrell to surprise their two boys.
12-year-old Justin Wealer and his 11-year-old brother Rob were sitting in their pew waiting for 10 a.m. mass to start at Holy Family Church in Hannibal. Fr. Mike Quinn called them up to the altar and thanked the boys for lending their dad to our country for the last year. Then, through a side door, Matt sneaked in. When the boys turned around and saw their dad...well I get goosebumps just writing about it. The family had asked me to capture the moment and they're letting me share it with you.
Matt Wealer joined the Army out of high school and his first deployment was to Saudi Arabia. When he returned to civilian life, he joined the Hannibal Police Department where he's a sergeant. He signed up with the National Guard to stay involved with the military. At that time, nearly all National Guard duties were stateside. When the planes hit on 9-11, its role dramatically changed. Matt went to Iraq at the start of the war and back again as it was winding down in 2009-2010. By that time, he had a wife and two small boys at home. They soon learned that soldiering is a sacrifice for the entire family.
"It's hard for me to see this, but I know it's for a higher purpose," Matt's wife Camilla told me. "Serving your country really is one of the most honorable things that you can do and so we accept that."
The Wealer/Ferrell family had a lot of support from family and friends in the last year, especially from Camilla's coworkers at Dewey Elementary in Quincy. "The spirit of service is truly alive here and we will continue to pay it forward," Camilla said.
Thank you Matt, Camilla, Justin and Rob!