DETROIT, Mich. — Captain Joshua Munsee nearly died during his first of three tours overseas with the United States Marine Corps.
Saying the worst part of being deployed is the separation from his family, he decided to plan a special surprise for them when he learned he would be returning home early from Afghanistan.
Munsee contacted the Detroit Lions, and their staff quickly began working on a plan for an elaborate homecoming.
Sunday, Munsee’s wife Michelle and three children were invited to watch the Lions play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Ford Field. They were told they’d be honored as a military family.
As they stood on the field in front of more than 62,000 people, a video Munsee shot in Afghanistan played on the big screen.
In the video, Munsee said hello to the crowd and told his family he missed them. A second video followed with Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.
“On behalf of the Detroit Lions, thank you to Captain Munsee for his service to our country and for being great Lions fan,” Stafford said in the video.
“Oh, and one more thing Captain Munsee,” Stafford continued, “Welcome home.”
That’s when Munsee ran onto the field to screams and cheers from fans – many wiping away tears – as he embraced Michelle and his kids.
Michelle said she had no clue he was home. She says she can’t describe the feeling – knowing he’s out of harm’s way.
Munsee’s five-year-old daughter Becca was shocked to see her dad. So was three-year-old Henry. Both already have a list of things they want to do to with their dad who gave up so much time with them – to take the time to protect us.
Ten-month-old Anna was just six months old when Captain Munsee was last deployed. Michelle says Anna would call for her dad at night.
It only took Anna 20 minutes after Munsee’s surprise to call him “Dada,” making it clear she remembered him.
Michelle says she lets the kids keep her busy to try to distract her from the constant worry of having a husband fighting overseas.
She says his homecoming is a priceless gift this Thanksgiving for a family so gracious to have each other.
Captain Munsee says he anticipates being home for at least a year.