When one soldier learned that he couldn’t have time off, he accepted that he wouldn’t see his new baby for months. Despite all the odds, however, he somehow managed to pull it off. And when he saw his two-year-old son, the adorable scene was complete.
John Vorrath and his wife Janae are based in the city of Ames in Iowa. They’d already had one young son together, and now another baby was on the way. However, John’s job often took him away from his beloved family for long stretches of time.
John was a sergeant with the Iowa Army National Guard. And, although his troop is based out of Boone, IA he was often sent overseas. Indeed, that was the case in 2014, when the young father was on deployment in the Middle East.
Being away from Janae and their two-year-old son, Jet, was difficult, so the fact that the family were expecting another baby made this time even harder. Moreover, John’s company were unable to take leave. This meant the proud dad wouldn’t see his newborn until she was months old.
The couple didn’t let this state of affairs bother them, however. Instead, John filed a request for leave on the off-chance that his commander would allow him to attend the birth. As this was unlikely to be granted, the couple made arrangements for the birth on the assumption that John would be on the other end of an internet connection.
“We knew when we got pregnant that they were not allowed any leave, and I’d be having the baby by myself,” Janae revealed to TODAY in 2014. “I think it’s hard to not be hopeful in circumstances like this, but you still have to prepare yourself for the worst.”
“Two weeks prior to my scheduled C-section we went over our plans again for who would be in the room with me, who would FaceTime with [John] and to make sure he would be available during the time of the surgery,” she continued. “Everything seemed as good as it could be, given our circumstances.”
So when the time came for Janae to deliver their baby, John settled down in front of his iPad to watch. Yes, it was through FaceTime that he witnessed the birth of his daughter, Charlotte. However, that’s when something amazing happened.
As John watched, glued to his screen, his commanding officer interrupted. Without much fuss, he slipped the sergeant a note, and John couldn’t believe what he was reading. His request for leave had been granted after all.
With no time to lose, John rushed to catch the first available flight. He then spent 22 hours in the air before he headed to meet his family on the other side of the world. Crucially, however, he decided not to tell Janae that he was on his way home.
When he arrived in the U.S., John had his friend Chris Reif pick him up at the airport. Moreover, Chris decided to film the entire thing on his camera, and what he captured was magical.
After meeting in the airport, the pair drove straight to Mary Greeley Medical Center, where Janae and Charlotte were being looked after. Once there, he planned to surprise his wife and their one-day-old daughter.
Indeed, John didn’t announce his arrival at all. Instead, he simply knocked on the door of his wife’s suite. Then, to the sound of gasps from Janae, he walked proudly into the room – still in his uniform.
“I was shocked and stunned,” she later told TODAY. “I’m not sure if I can put into words how special it was to share those first few days of our daughter’s life together. Especially since we had prepared ourselves for him to not meet her until she was approximately six months old.”
When the surprise had sunk in, the couple shared a tender embrace. Then John turned his attention to little baby Charlotte. “Oh, my gosh, look at her,” he cooed in the footage shot by Chris. “She’s so small!”
And John’s surprises didn’t end there. He still had to say hi to his son Jet. And the youngster hadn’t seen his dad since he was deployed. So, needless to say, it was to be a special moment.
Yes, when Jet got to the hospital, quite a crowd had gathered to watch his reaction. After a few confused seconds, he was delighted to see his dad. Then he ran into his father’s waiting arms to enjoy the biggest cuddle.
As he embraced his eldest child, John couldn’t believe how he’d changed. “He’s just grown,” he later told KCCI. “His vocabulary’s grown, he’s a lot smarter and even with FaceTime, it just doesn’t give a good picture of who he is and what he’s like, so it’s just been awesome to be home and to experience all of that.”
John got to spend a little over a week with his family. Then, it was time to jet back off to work in the Middle East. And, although the parting was difficult, both he and Janae will be forever grateful that they got to spend their daughter’s first days together as a family.
“Listening to him read our kids stories and take our son to the park and play trucks with him and rock our daughter to sleep has been truly surreal,” she said to TODAY. “He’s my best friend and I hate doing life without him.”