Christmas came early for a 12-year-old Garfield middle schooler.
Marvin Monroig Jr. was on stage leading his sixth grade class in a holiday sing-a-long last Friday when he felt someone's arm wrap around his shoulder.
At first, he just kept singing. But when he looked over, he saw his father, 31-year-old U.S. Army soldier and Garfield police officer Marvin Monroig Sr.
Completely shocked, Marvin Jr. hadn't seen his dad since he left for Somalia 10 months ago, and wasn't expecting him until sometime after Christmas.
Monroig planned the surprise with help from his girlfriend Jennifer Lopez-Rios and his college Nick Santillo, a fellow Garfield police officer.
They took things day-by-day, as Monroig wasn't sure exactly his big return would be.
Marvin Jr. was completely unsuspecting up until the minute it happened.
"I felt like something was up when I was called on stage but had no idea my dad was involved at all," the sixth grader said.
"I felt, I cant even explain, I was really happy and sad at the same time."
Monroig enlisted in the Army when he was 17, in his senior year at Garfield High School. He was placed into the delayed entry program until graduation.
"My enlistment was heavily influenced after 9/11," the soldier said. "That is just a memory you can never forget."
Monroig was deployed to Iraq in 2008 for one year, when Marvin Jr. was just a baby.
In 2015, he became a police officer for the City of Garfield.
The proud dad is home indefinitely and glad to be spending some quality time with his family.
"Seeing how much [Marvin Jr.] has grown and realizing he's still my little boy despite his size," he trailed off -- "I was finally able to declare that I was the happiest man on earth -- to hold my son again."
"I really missed my dad," Marvin Jr. added. "Partners for life."
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