LOCAL NEWS

Nephi Soldier Home From The Middle East Surprises His Daughters At Basketball Game

Jan 31, 2019, 10:55 PM | Updated: 10:57 pm

NEPHI, Utah – It’s natural to look at photos after a long trip.

“They took us to a little farm,” said Gray Hansen, as he flicked through hundreds of photos on his cell phone. “We got to go check out his camels.”

However, the photos on his phone weren’t from a vacation.

They were from his latest military deployment.

Hansen is a soldier with the Utah Army National Guard and has spent the past nine months away from his family deployed to the Middle East.

“I’m a sergeant major with the 65th field artillery brigade,” he said proudly.

Hansen returned home to Nephi on Thursday after a ceremony at the South Valley airport in West Jordan.

As much as he missed home, he was thankful he was able to regularly keep in touch with his wife, son, and two daughters.

“My girls are into Snapchat, so they got me doing that,” he said with a laugh. “We stayed in touch. I stayed in touch with them every day through Snapchat.”

One thing he didn’t tell them, though, was he coming home Thursday morning.

And since Thursday night was one of his daughters basketball games, and his other daughter would be in the stands watching, his wife got the idea for him to dress up as the Juab High School mascot.

Sgt. Major Gray Hansen

“It’ll be worth it. It’ll be worth it to see the girls,” he said, as he put on the yellow and black wasp costume.

Just before the varsity game started, Hansen went out onto the basketball floor to high five players and into the stands to wave at fans.

He tried to act as normal as possible.

“I was so worried about my walk,” he said.

Then, right after the national anthem, the moment he’s been waiting nearly a year for finally happened.

The announcer said into the microphone for the crowd to welcome home Sergeant Major Gray Hansen.

He took off the mascot head, and his two daughters came running into his arms.

Almost everyone in the crowd could hear their sobs and laughter.

It’s OK for even soldiers to cry.

“I love you,” he said to them.

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Nephi Soldier Home From The Middle East Surprises His Daughters At Basketball Game