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Philadelphia Flyers help soldier surprise family by wrapping him up in G.I. Joe box (video)

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The Philadelphia Flyers helped a soldier pull off one of the most original surprise returns of all-time on Thursday night. Quickly becoming a stadium and arena staple at pro and college games alike, the act of bringing out the family of a soldier believed to be overseas under a false pretense before the military member emerges truly is one of the more heartwarming occurrences at sporting events.

But the Flyers, along with the brother of the soldier, really pulled out all the stops with this one.

Army PFC. Matthew Windish was believed to be overseas serving in Korea and was not expected home until next Friday for the holidays. His parents, Joann and Mark, were invited to attend the Flyers game at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday for what they believed was to view a message from their son on the Jumbotron.

Late in the second period, the Windishes were escorted down the tunnel so they could get a better look at the Jumbotron. Instead, the two were presented with a large wrapped gift. Underneath the wrapping paper was their son in a life-sized G.I. Joe box. And that’s when the parents received a welcome and emotionally uplifting holiday surprise.

Both mom and son spoke about the surprise afterward (via Delaware Online):

I was surprised,” Joann said. “First I thought he was coming home, but then I didn’t think he was going to. I just thought it was going to be a video, but when they opened up that box and I saw his face … we have missed him so much this past year. It was an awesome surprise.”

A raucous crowd was on its feet cheering a well-planned family reunion. Then the crowd broke out into chants of “USA! USA!”

“It was amazing,” Matt said. “My heart started beating so fast I really had no clue what was going on. I went blank for a little bit.

“This is probably one of the best things in the whole entire world. This is insanely awesome. I just wish that everyone could get to experience this. I feel very grateful right now.”

Awesome. Brilliantly executed. Kudos to everyone involved.

[H/t Bob’s Blitz, Puck Daddy]

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