Soldier returns home, surprises children at football game

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -- Before Nathanal Hayes left for Afghanistan almost a year ago, he took his two kids to their first Cedar Rapids Titans game in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Nathaniel Hayes surprised his son and daughter at the Titans game in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, March 19, 2017. Hayes took his kids to their first Titans game before he left for Afghanistan almost one year ago. (Phil Reed/KCRG-TV9)

So, he figured that would be a good place to pick up where they left off.

The announcer called his name after they introduced the players. His kids, 6-year-old Eva, and 7-year-old Jack greeted him with a big hug. They thought he was coming home next week.

Players from both teams thanked him for his service, and he got to do the coin toss. Hayes was so nervous before the surprise that he could barely stand still, but soaked up every moment of it.

"I didn't even notice anything else, like there's people all around motorcycles and a bunch of players," he said. "I didn't see anything else other than them. It was great, it was amazing."

“We thought he would be on the screen, so we didn't really, we were trying to look at the screens but nothing was on him," said his son, Jack. "Then we see some person walking out [and its] dad.”

After the surprise, they enjoyed the Titans game together. Hayes plans to take his kids to Disneyland next month.

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