A well-planned surprise caught on camera thrust Justin Whyte and his family into the national spotlight.
In May, his wife, Susie, recorded as their son, Aiden, dressed as Luke Skywalker, battled Darth Vader, who he thought was his older cousin in costume. About a minute later, Aiden "defeated" Darth Vader and pulled off his mask. To his surprise, Darth Vader really and true was his father. The same father he was convinced was in training thousands of miles away.
The video, which was posted on WelcomeHomeBlog.com now has 680,000 hits.
Almost 10 months later, Justin has returned home his completed deployment to the Middle East.
The camera was rolling again Friday but there was no big surprise planned this time around. Still there was plenty of anticipation of what the long-awaited moment would look like when Justin, a Navy reservist and Wichita Police officer, returned home from deployment with fellow servicemember, Jason Strunk of Goddard.
Susie, their children, and other family and friends gathered at Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport to greet them as close to the terminal as they could get.
Justin's children, Emily and Aiden, designed special signs to hold. Emily's sign read, "Welcome Home Daddy, Welcome Home Uncle Strunk, We Missed You!" Aiden's sign featured a picture of Darth Vader and read, "He is my father."
"His son had to have the Darth Vader sign to go along with the video!" Susie Whyte said.
As the moment drew closer, it became harder and harder for the kids to stand still. Then, all of a sudden, they caught their first glimpse of Justin walking down to greet them.
Much like in the video recorded back in May, the kids took off running into Justin's arms.
"Hi! Hi, buddy!" Justin exclaimed as he kissed each child on the forehead.
Susie had to wait her turn but enough also got a kiss from her husband.
"I let the kids go to him first and his mom so I didn't have to push anybody over," Susie Whyte said.
Slightly different from the star wars surprise video they taped, there was a large public audience clapping for this video's climax.
"I'm glad to be home and to see my kids," Justin Whyte said.
They're glad to see him.
Emily and Aiden already have big plans for how they'll make up for lost time with their dad.
"Play Wii games!" Aiden said.
"Go on a date!" Emily said.
They'll have lots of opportunities. After that lost time, they seemingly have all the time in the world together.