Local soldier returns home, surprises family


AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – With a little help from the University of South Carolina, a local soldier was able to surprise her family when she returned home from serving in Afghanistan.

SFC Lisa Charnok of Aiken is with the South Carolina National Guard 228th Signal Brigade. Before returning home from a nine month deployment to Bagram Airfield Base in Afghanistan, she contacted her sister, who in turn contacted the University of South Carolina about possibly surprising family members with her return during an athletic event.

On Friday, April 21, her niece and nephew were brought onto the field during the South Carolina/Auburn softball game in Columbia as the “Military Family Of The Game”. What they did not know is that Lisa was hiding in the dugout to surprise them.

Moments later, the public address announcer asked the family to turn their attention to the first base dugout for a “special surprise” and Lisa came walking out. Her niece immediately sprinted to her, followed by her nephew and the three were reunited in front of a standing ovation.

“I was so excited to finally be able to give them a big ol’ hug,” Charnock told NewsChannel 6. “I was nervous. I was so anxious to see them and had been hiding out for a week!”

The reunion was part of a week of surprises for Charnock. First she surprised her mother in Greenwood, South Carolina. Then she surprised her aunts and uncles which almost blew her cover.

“My aunt posted it on Facebook but luckily my friend saw it right at the time she did it and called my Mom and my Mom called to get her to delete it,” Charnock said. “It was a little stressful but thankfully we pulled it off.”

The day after the surprise reunion at the game she was able to surprise her Dad on Easter Sunday by walking into his back yard dressed as the Easter bunny. The reunion tour concluded later that day when she surprised her fellow church members by walking in as she was being mentioned in the announcements.

To watch the video of the reunion produced by the University of South Carolina, click below:

To watch the raw video of the reunion recorded by the Charnock family, click below:

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