First, the heartwarming video. Then, the details:
Cincinnati-area mom Karen Gardner has three sons in uniform: Aviation Electrician’s Mate 1st Class (AW) Charles Gardner, Electronics Technician 3rd Class (SS) Christopher Gardner, and Joey Gardner, who turns 7 on Halloween and plays linebacker and running back for the Anderson Wildcats.
Christopher Gardner hasn’t exactly been available to attend many of his brother’s recent sporting events — he serves on the attack submarine Helena, which only recently returned to Norfolk, Va., from a six-month deployment. But when he did have some time on the surface and was able to make it home, Karen decided to organize a surprise for Joey.
That led to the video above, shot by WCPO-TV, that shows a serious Joey during a pregame meeting of team captains, which ends with an announcement over the loudspeaker that his brother is in attendance … and a standard Navy-issue bearhug.
(Football players young and old, take note: Joey has his mouthpiece in the entire time. Coaches love that.)
Charles Gardner’s unit, the “Blackhawks” of Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 15, returned to Norfolk from Bahrain earlier this year, Karen Gardner said in an email. She told WPCO that the surprise was a way to make Christopher’s homecoming just as special as Charles’ homecoming had been.
Joey’s older brothers played football, but he hasn’t committed to following them into the Navy just yet. Plus, says his mom, Joey has plenty of uniforms to choose from: His dad’s a police officer.