Story and photo by Spc. Khori D. Johnson
3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
After enduring a year of deployment and sandstorms, it’s safe to say that Soldiers from 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, were eager for their initial embrace with Family and friends upon redeployment.
However, most Soldiers don’t have a chance to share these intimate reunions in front of a national television audience on The Learning Channel.
For Spc. Kyle Dite, 4th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment; Sgt. Garrett Huitt, 3rd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Regiment; and Sgt. Steven McGloin, 3rd Special Troops Battalion; this became a reality as their reunion was planned and filmed by a crew from TLC’s new series, “Surprise Homecoming.”
The surprise reunions for Huitt and McGloin aired during the Memorial Day sneak preview. Videos are available on the TLC website at http://tlc.discovery. com by searching for “Surprise Homecoming videos.” Dite is scheduled to be featured in the second episode, which will air July 11 or 18.
The series, hosted by multiplatinum country music singer and actor, Billy Ray Cyrus, gives its audience a chance to witness the emotional reunions between Soldiers and their Families after long deployments.
While still in Iraq, nine “Iron” Brigade Soldiers recorded audition tapes, explaining who they wanted to surprise upon returning home and why they would be good candidates for the show.
After the “Surprise Homecoming” producers made their selections, they began planning the surprise reunion scenarios with the help of “special accomplices” selected by each Soldier. In the case of Huitt and Dite, the producers coordinated with their family members’ co-workers to make arrangements to surprise them in their workplace.
According to Huitt, a cannon crew member, his wife had no idea that he was going to show up at her work, the Bank of Colorado. The crew staged a faux situation that Cyrus was doing a day in the life of a bank employee special. When she least expected, her husband came into the bank to a roaring applause.
“She was completely surprised,” he said. “I didn’t deserve this more than any other Soldier (in the brigade). But my wife did deserve this; I just wanted to do it for her.”
One challenge for Huitt involved returning to Fort Carson early without his wife knowing, a task that took a little well-intended deception and a lot of patience. While waiting to shoot the reunion with the TLC crew, he had to “lay low” in the barracks for several days while the film crew made the final preparations for the surprise.
Dite, a cavalry scout returning from duty in Iraq, was able to surprise his mother at her workplace along with his older brother, Sgt. Aaron Seabert, 3rd Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st BCT, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y., who was redeploying from Afghanistan.
Dite said he and his brother enjoyed the three days of shooting, noting the crew was courteous and helpful throughout their time in front of the camera.
“It was a new experience for me and my brother,” said Dite. “It was weird at first, but after a while, it was like the cameras weren’t even there.”
Dite, who was skeptical that he would get selected to be in the show, said the thing he was most looking forward to after his deployment was spending time with his mom and the rest of his family.
“To see the look on my mom’s face was priceless,” he said. “I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”