PHOENIX (KSAZ) - The holidays are often a time for family reunions, so what better time for a valley soldier to reunite with his family after being away at basic training?
You've heard about stories where a soldier surprises his loved ones with a grand return, but what about when the family turns the tables and surprises the soldier?
That's what one mother who happened to be a flight attendant did. The soldier was coming home for Thanksgiving after finishing basic training. But rather than wait for him to land at Sky Harbor, his mother who is a flight attendant for American Airlines was able to surprise her son, and it brought even total strangers to tears.
When 18-year-old Private Cody Middleton boarded an American Airlines flight in Philadelphia last week, he had no idea he was in for the surprise of his life.
"It was unexpected," said Private Middleton.
He had just gotten on board when he heard a flight attendant call him to the front of the plane.
"And I was like oh no, did I forget something? Like what happened?" said Middleton.
What happened was something his mom Shelli had been planning for days, she was about to reunite with him right there on the plane.
The emotional reunion was caught on camera as passengers on the plane burst into applause.
"Everybody was just clapping, people were crying, and then when I walked back people were giving me high fives, it was a good feeling," said Middleton.
Shelli says it was hard keeping the secret a surprise; she even told Cody she was working a flight in Hawaii.
"So when the moment came I was nervous, but I couldn't wait to see him, I was emotional. It took my breath away just seeing him," said Shelli Middleton.
Shelli says this wouldn't have been possible without the help of fellow flight attendants who agreed to change schedules so she could be on that flight. Cody will be home until this Sunday when he will head off to Kentucky for more training with the 101st Airborne Division.