Midlands soldier comes home to give his children a holiday surprise

Staff Sgt. Raymond Henry returned after an eleven-month tour in Iraq

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) —With Christmas just around the corner, a Midlands father gave three of his children a holiday gift they’ll never forget.

It may have taken him across the globe and eleven months to deliver, but Staff Sgt. Raymond Henry surprised his children at a holiday assembly at Harbison West Elementary School.

When asked about her father, Shanel Henry, 6, is quick to smile.

“One thing is he’s funny and one thing is he’s playful,” she said.

Henry has completed two tours of duty in Iraq, including one that has lasted the last eleven months.

“When you’re away from family, it takes a part of you away. Even though you’re around people the whole time, it’s like a part of you gone,” Henry said.

Henry says he’s not the most emotional person, but he found out a low-key return was not in the cards.

“I was just ready to just get off the plane, let’s go. But it was my wife’s decision. It was something she felt heartful and that she wanted to do, and I wanted to do it,” Henry said.

Henry watched backstage as his children performed during the holiday assembly.

Once they finished singing, the plan went into action, leaving a moment they’ll never forget.

“No matter how many tours I do, no matter how far I am away from my family, when I’m with them, I feel complete. When I’m away from them, I feel like something’s missing, and now I’m whole again,” Henry said.

As for the next few months, Henry says he has one simple plan.

“Just give my family the time they deserve. I took time away from them, now it’s time for me to give it back them,” Henry said.

Henry says he’s not sure when he will be heading back to Iraq, but he says he’s eager to spend a memorable Christmas with his family.

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