BRIGGSVILLE, Wis. -

Sgt. Josh Dimond was serving overseas and had not seen his three children in nearly a year, but he was able to pull off a top secret reunion to make his Marquette County family’s holidays a little merrier.

The annual holiday program at Neenah Creek Elementary School is something people in the Briggsville community come together for, and their principal revealed a huge secret that was waiting in the school’s library.

After a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan and several months in Georgia, Dimond returned home to surprise his kids Tuesday.

“Just got back in the early part of October, and this is the first time I’ve gotten to see the kids since I’ve been back,” Dimond said. “When you can’t touch them or hug them or help them with their homework, it’s been hard.”

Skylar, Gavin and Dominik weren’t expecting to see their dad until the middle of February.

“This last year, he wasn’t here for any of their birthdays. Two years ago, he wasn’t here for any of their birthdays. When he first went into the military, he wasn’t here for any of their birthdays. It’s been a normal thing, he’s been gone for certain things,” his wife, Becki Dimond, said.

Becki is breathing a sigh of relief that she doesn’t have to hold in the secret any more. She was able to pull off the mission with help from a few friends.

“It took about three weeks of planning, some help from the community, had a few friends of mine help me afford the plane ticket. With it being around Christmas time, it was pretty expensive,” she said.

Josh Dimond said he was looking forward to more hugs and memories he plans to make with his family during the holidays.

With the secret finally out, the happy homecoming can officially begin.

Skylar said her family likes to watch movies, so they are making plans to spend their holiday break on the couch with a giant bucket of popcorn.

Josh Dimond will be home for the next three weeks before returning to Fort Stewart, Ga.