A Beech Island soldier surprised his family by returning home from South Korea for Christmas. (WRDW-TV)
BEECH ISLAND, S.C. -- A big present on the front porch turned into the surprise of a lifetime for four kids and a wife after six long months without a very special person.
"I opened the present and my daddy was in there!" 4-year-old Colton Payne shrieked.
"I love you daddy," he said as he clung onto his dad after walking in the door.
A family is reunited after months and miles apart -- and just in time for Christmas.
"Were you surprised?" asked 8-year-old brother Camron Payne.
"Happy!" Colton replied, hugging his dad.
Instead of being in South Korea, this soldier ended up in a box on his own front porch.
"I put the box over my head and kinda walked down the sidewalk with it kinda like, what'd you say it was like? 'Toy Story!'" explains dad Michael Payne.
When the box came to life, his kids got the surprise of a lifetime.
"It was just like I was dreaming," daughter Katie Conaway said.
"I had no idea my daddy was coming," Camron said.
"I missed my daddy a lot," Colton said.
For 18 days he'll be home before he ships out again, and they're making the most of every minute.
"When I came in last night, we just picked up where we left off," Michael said.
"It's good to have my daddy back," Colton said happily.
Words from the heart spoken for the whole family.
"We've been through kind of a painful six months, so when you're trying to hold it together, run your family. He's missed a lot of things," wife Kelly Payne explained.
"I've been in the army for 20 years, and so I've missed a lot of Christmases here and there, so I knew that I had to come home," Michael said.
Now the kids say this Christmas will be the best one yet.
"We get to have our daddy in it," Camron said.
That's one gift that won't get returned.
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