JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-- Dressed in military fatigues and some of his family by his side, Kyle Richert, slipped into the back door of the Kitchen at Longhorn Steakhouse on Airport Road. The managers, several servers and even FCN were in on a big surprise that was about to pay off.
Stephanie Higbee, Richert's mother, took two months to plan the surprise. His grandmother, Shirley Campbell was completely unaware that Richert was in the United States, let alone in the same restaurant where she was. He hasn't seen her face-to-face in two-and-a-half years.
"I'm kind of nervous. I don't want to give her a heart attack," Richert said with a smile and laugh as he prepared to surprise his grandmother. "That's what I'm worried about."
Why has he been gone so long? Richert is a Senior Airman in the US Air Force.
He just got home Sunday evening from serving overseas in Europe for a year maintaining military jets.
Campbell thought she was at the restaurant for an engagement announcement for Richert cousin. Richert had a good idea of how his grandmother would react.
"Honestly, she's probably going to grab me and do her little kisses on the cheek, 'cause that's always been her thing since I was little," he said.
Richert is 22 now and it was his turn to make lasting memories for his grandmother, with a little humor
"Can I take your order?" Richert said as he walked up to the table where his grandmother and other family were sitting.
Campbell did a double-take as she looked at Richert. She jumped up and screamed
"oh my god!" as she threw her arms around her grandson. She cried as they embraced for at least a few minutes.
"I'm so proud of him. He's my hero," Richert's mother, Stephanie Higbee said as she wiped away tears.
Campbell didn't let go of her grandson.
"he's here! He's here!" She said as she held his hand.
This is an experience everyone said they would remember for the rest of their lives.