Gabriel Hurles' sixth birthday party wasn't a surprise, but his present sure was. The kindergartner was so engrossed in the cupcakes his mother brought to his class on Wednesday that he didn't notice the enormous wrapped box off to the side.
"That's one big, giant present," a 6-year-old classmate told him. "See what you got, Gabriel."
"It's my dad!" Gabriel Hurles announces as he discovers what's inside his biggest birthday gift ever. After returning from Iraq on Tuesday afternoon, U.S. Army Spec. Casey Hurles surprised Gabriel at his sixth birthday party in his kindergarten class in Dayton, Nev.,last Wednesday.
Gabriel peeled back the wrapping paper to find the surprise of his young life — his father, an Army mechanic back in Nevada on leave from his second tour in Iraq.
"It's my dad!" he announced to his classmates at Sutro Elementary School in Dayton, a few miles northeast of Carson City. "Hi, Daddy."
Army Spc. Casey Hurles, 23, hadn't seen his son since he left in June. When he learned his leave would coincide with his son's birthday, he hatched a plan to hide out in the 4-foot-tall box.
"It was such a rush of emotion," said Hurles, who said he got butterflies in his stomach while waiting in the box.
After Hurles sat down and ate a cupcake with the birthday boy, teacher Dawn VanSickle presented him with a banner from the class that read, "Welcome Home. Thank you for your service."
VanSickle said she was happy to arrange the reunion in her classroom.