Metro-East News

They thought it would be a normal Althoff game. Then dad came home from Afghanistan.

Mike Seiler’s children were certainly surprised to see him — they didn’t know he was going to appear out of nowhere during halftime at an Althoff Catholic High School basketball game Friday night.

Seiler returned late Wednesday from a four-and-a-half-month deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan, a “challenging” deployment, he said — one he was glad was over. But he was happy to have the chance to surprise his kids with a grand return.

Though Seiler’s wife, Kerri, knew about the plans, his children weren’t expecting him back for another week.

“We’ve worked hard to get the surprise to work,” Seiler said in a YouTube video posted by the school.

His daughter, Kaitlyn Seiler, 17, is a member of the Lady Crusaders dance team, and she was on the basketball court when she realized her dad had arrived. Her jaw drops. She runs to hug him, followed by her brothers, Jakob, 15, and Jackson, 13. The crowd erupts in applause and cheers.

“It’s a family memory for a lifetime,” Seiler said.

Even the opposing team’s fans from Cahokia were cheering, Principal Dave Harris said.

“In this day and age, to see the people and their appreciation in his service, it was incredibly heart-warming,” Harris said.

Seiler says this most recently deployment was his last. He plans to retire next summer.