A girl was cheering on the basketball team in South Jersey Saturday when her coaches called her to the middle of the court.
"I didn't know what was going on," said Maia Heath, a sophome and cheerleader at Holy Cross High School in Delran, N.J.
After spending the last 2 1/2 years overseas, her father - a colonel in the U.S. Army - walked through the gym doors before breaking into a run to meet his 15-year-old daughter at mid-court.
Jerome Heath, who is also a detective with the Camden County Police Department, says the suspense leading up to his return was difficult.
"Even the last few seconds," Heath said. "Seeing her out there and not being able to go out there and grab her."
Heath had been stationed in Pakistan since 2011, missing many important milestones, including his oldest daughter's graduation from Wake Forest University.
"It is a big void in your life that you'll never be able to capture again," he said. "There's no opportunity in the world for me to reclaim that time."
Twenty-three-year-old Tesia lives in North Carolina and was unable to return home to see her Dad Saturday. But her mother, Tyneta, says she is thrilled her father is home.
The teary reunion elicited applause from the spectators and teams.
"The moments that we share right now will be everlasting," Heath said.