U.S. Army Sgt. Eric Kartner had a surprise Friday morning for his 6-year-old twins, Alexis and Andrew.
Kartner, 33, is home for two weeks of leave after six months at a forward operating base in southeastern Afghanistan. With the help of his ex-wife and officials at Huntertown Elementary School in Versailles, he caught his children unaware in the school's lobby on their way to lunch.
For a moment they just stood and stared. Then they leaped into their father's arms to the sounds of weeping and applause as a crowd gathered.
"It was a total surprise to them," Kartner said later. "They saw me and their eyes opened wide, like 'Wait, I know you.' And they just took off running."
The six-month separation has been painful for the family. When he's stateside, Kartner is stationed at Fort Knox.
"Their mom says that they have issues," he said. "Alexis, she can't sleep without putting my picture right next to her. She has to position it just right next to her pillow every night."
Kartner said he wants to take his children to the Newport Aquarium and the public pools opening this weekend. He also has a 17-year-old daughter who attends East Jessamine High School.
Then it's back to Afghanistan and the motor pool for the remaining six months of his tour.