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Santa soldier surprises mom on Christmas Eve in New Jersey

Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Santa soldier surprises his mom on Christmas Eve

A New Jersey mother got the greatest gift she could possibly get this Christmas.

She thought she would be spending the holidays thousands of miles away from her son, who is serving in the military in Afghanistan. Well today, he gave her a surprise she'll never forget.

In Brick Township, at the Ocean Medical Center, no one knew who was behind the white beard. No one knew except the man himself and two planners who arranged for army specialist Travis Ruggiero to give his mom the greatest Christmas gift of all.

"This year was different, 'cause she was like, all I want for Christmas is for you to be home," Ruggiero said.

She wanted him home from a nine-month tour in Afghanistan. But Travis wasn't supposed to come home to Fort Knox until March. Instead, a welcome surprise from the military.

Travis's mom, Leslie is a nurse in the maternity ward at the Medical Center. She's used to pleasant surprises but she had no clue about this one. She thinks all the nurses are about to get gifts from Santa.

But to her surprise, she was about to expect a Christmas miracle. Leslie's name just "happens" to be called first and she is handed a card. By the look of her face, she can tell who it's from.

As she opens the card, she starts crying and explains how it is from her son in Afghanistan. As someone tells her to turn around, she sees her son.

Cue the tissues!

Here is what Travis wrote in the card:

"I am so incredible thankful for all the love and support you've given me through this entire deployment. I will never forget it, or how blessed I am for having such a caring and wonderful mother."

Travis will have a 21-day leave before he has to head back to Fort Knox, Kentucky, eventually onto his next assignment.

But wherever that is, his mom will always have this.

"Christmas for me is family so it changes everything for me," Leslies cried.

(Copyright ©2014 WABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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