Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

Military family reunited in surprise Safeco Field ceremony

Photo Credit: Ryan Hueter / MLB.com Real-Time Correspondent

After 15 months overseas in Turkey, U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant Donald Kitchens surprised his wife and children in a special ceremony before Friday's Mariners game.

In April, TSgt. Kitchens, who is stationed in Poulsbo, Wash., reached out to the Mariners. The team was more than happy to help him surprise his wife Anna, son Caleb, 4, and daughter Allie, 19 months.

"They took it and ran with it," TSgt. Kitchens said while holding Caleb, who clung to dad with his arms around his neck. "This is far beyond anything that I could ever have dreamed about or imagined."

But it wasn't easy for TSgt. Kitchens and the Mariners to get the rest of the family to Safeco Field without suspecting anything was up.

"To keep something [from her] for four months was incredibly difficult," TSgt. Kitchens said. "She always knew something was not being completely told."

While on deployment at Incirlik Air Force Base in Turkey, Kitchens told Anna that he would take Caleb, 4, a die-hard baseball fan, to a Mariners game when he got home. But then, his deployment got extended -- or so the story went.

"I was ready to cancel the whole thing," Anna said with a laugh.

It's a good thing she didn't. On Friday, as Anna, Caleb, and Allie presented the umpires with the Mariners lineup card, the man they hadn't seen in 15 months came sprinting out of the tunnel in full fatigues.

TSgt. Kitchens embraced his whole family at home plate -- a family complete.