OGDEN — Whenever Karver Jewett passed the airport with his grandparents, he wondered if his dad was still inside.
The last time the 5-year-old Ogden boy saw his father was in April when the family dropped Petty Officer, First Class Brad Jewett off for a year-long deployment overseas.
"He has a globe that he's been keeping track of where I'm at," Jewett said Wednesday. "I think he still has a hard time comprehending how far it truly is. ... It's even hard for myself to comprehend sometimes."
Karver and his dad were reunited far from a battlefield in the safety of Mrs. Jennings' kindergarten class at Pioneer Elementary on Wednesday. The Naval Hospital Corpsman was welcomed to Karver's classroom by the boy's teacher, who told the class they were about to have a surprise "special visitor."
When the man in camouflage came through the door, a little boy in a blue T-shirt couldn't believe his eyes. Once the recognition hit him, he ran into his dad's arms.
"I've missed you, buddy," were among the first in-person, in-country words Jewett said to his son.
Jewett is on a 15-day leave from his deployment, and had been planning the surprise for months. He'll ship out again in January, though his new location hasn't been determined.
"This has been … a long time coming. It's hard to believe it's actually finally here," Jewett said of the reunion. He originally wanted to keep his leave a surprise from his parents as well, "but my parents threw me for a loop when they told me they were going to Green Bay for the Packers vs. Bears game for Christmas Day. ... At least I was able to still surprise him."
Jewett said he almost couldn't handle the anticipation of it all.
"It gets tough. You get so excited to come home, and it's like 'Oh, we're delayed for another two hours,'" he said.
Jewett's mother, Diane Stern, was on-site to take photos and record the reunion, which was full of long-awaited affection.
"We've been anticipating this for a few weeks, and really hoping that Karver would be excited," she said. "It was nice, he was excited to see him. He was happy, and excited, and gave him lots of hugs."