Returning Mississippi soldier’s surprise plan backfires when no one is home

Published 8:27 am Wednesday, October 2, 2019

There was a problem with the unit’s luggage truck so the troops had to wait on another truck. That put them at the airport in Killen, Texas, at 4:30 a.m. Only four soldiers were able to check in before the gate closed.

Grimes was fifth in line and missed the flight to Dallas.

Another soldier was upset about the missed flight, so Grimes stepped outside with her to calm her down. When he came back in, the other seven who missed the first flight were lined up and he was at the end.

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For the second flight, four soldiers got on including the soldier he helped.

He was out again.

The attendant tried to get him on the next flight, but that 50-seater airplane with four vacant seats was changed to a 44-seat plane that was now overbooked.

He called a sergeant for a vehicle to ride to Dallas-Fort Worth. He and the other three soldiers who needed to go to DFW caught a ride when the vehicle from Fort Hood dropped off the next batch of soldiers.

Grimes made it to Dallas and was waiting for the flight that would take him to Jackson when he received a text message from Holly. They were already on their way to Louisiana for the day.

His plane arrived in Jackson at 2 p.m. He headed for the rental car, but there was a problem with the reservation — his debit card couldn’t be used to get the car and Holly had the credit card. And calling his wife would ruin the surprise.

His backup plan was a chaplain in Jackson, but he was leading a retreat that day and couldn’t get away.

He finally found a friend who could come pick him up and bring him home to an empty house, where he hid underneath the security camera so Holly wouldn’t see that he was home.

“What’s funny is she’d actually looked in on the house and was showing her dad some things with the security cameras,” he said.

Instead of playing catch-up with his family that he hadn’t seen since Thanksgiving, he played games on his phone while sitting in a chair under one of the cameras. When he figured she’d almost be back home — around 5:30 p.m. — he called to check on her and discovered she was still at her parents’ house three hours away.

That meant a lot more hiding.