When Santa Claus asks children what they want for Christmas, many ramble off a list of toys or games they hope to find under the tree Christmas morning. Children of deployed service members, however, might ask Santa to bring their parent home for Christmas.
That was the case for 2 1/2 year old Remington Grace when he told Santa that he wanted his dad, Capt. Jeff Grace, home for Christmas.
Capt. Grace was one of the many Soldiers of 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, who departed from Fort Wainwright, Alaska, earlier this year on a nine-month deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
Remington's mother, Sara Grace, expected that her husband would be deployed the full nine months, with a slight chance of returning in the early months of 2020. Her son's request to Santa was just one Christmas wish that couldn't come true.
Capt. Grace had other plans though when he learned that he would be home in time for Christmas. Remembering Remington's reaction last year to the Fort Wainwright Fire Department's Santa Rides, he reached out to the fire department through social media and asked their help.
Chief Charles Gibbs said that department members were excited to help with the surprise return.
With a plan in place, and Capt. Grace home from his deployment, the Fire Department set out on the morning of Dec. 18 to give Remington his gift.
Three fire engines pulled up to the Grace's home the morning of Dec. 18 with lights flashing as they played out the plan to respond to a notional alarm call. Once the crew verified that the house was clear they brought in Santa Claus to meet with Remington and give presents to him and his 4 month old sister Hailey.
That's when Santa asked again what Remington wanted most of all for Christmas this year and the boy asked for his daddy to be home.
With a queue from the fire crew, Capt. Grace entered the family's living room and surprised everyone with his early return home.
Santa Claus, with help from the Fort Wainwright Fire Department, was able to fulfill a gift request greater than any amount of toys or games a 2 1/2 year old could have asked for; he brought his dad home for Christmas.