Soldier pops out of gift box, surprises kids with early return for Christmas

**Embargo: Greenville-Spartanburg, SC-Asheville, NC** Rutherfordton Army National Guardsman Brandon Whiteside, who was in Iraq for about nine months, was wrapped as a present to surprise his kids.

FOREST CITY, N.C. (WLOS ) — A Rutherfordton Army National Guardsman made it safely back to his family several days ago.

Since we are less than a week away from Christmas—it was the perfect opportunity to plan a moment his kids will never forget.

Brandon Whiteside was in Iraq for about 9 months. He originally thought his second tour of duty was ending early next year; until last month.

“I think we found out sometime around Thanksgiving that he could possibly, potentially be here before Christmas,” Angel Whiteside, Brandon’s wife, said.

Potentially before Angel would be having their fifth child.

“I’m like doing the math and thinking, ‘he could beat this baby here,'” Angel said.

Brandon did arrive home before the baby.

Brandon landed in Charlotte on Saturday.

“On my due date, actually for the new baby, and I said, ‘well, I’m not sure how to surprise the kids,'” Angel said. “So, I have a really big box. Let’s just wrap him up in a present, and let the kids open him up when they get home.”

Brandon and Angel discussed the plan on the way home from the airport.

“I didn’t really think we were doing it till I was on the way home, in the car, [and she said] ‘yeah, like I got a box, so we gotta go wrap it up and stuff you inside of it.’ and, I was like, ‘oh, I’ve been on a plane for the past week. So, it’s going to be nice,” Brandon said with a laugh.

Angel’s dad captured the surprise on his cellphone.

Now safe with his family, with a baby on the way, Brandon said there was no surprise like being home for the holidays.

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