The only thing better than a surprise is three of them.

On Friday, Nov. 6, Air Force TSgt. Martin Fiorino, who returned from a fourth-month deployment in Afghanistan earlier in the day, surprised his children with pop-in visits at their schools.

The visits were organized by his wife, Air Force MSgt. Lisa Fiorina, and coordinated with Sedalia 200 district administration.

The first stop was at Smith-Cotton Junior High to see Austyn, a seventh grader; then Smith-Cotton High for freshman Ellie, a JROTC cadet; and finally to Parkview Elementary to surprise first grader Lane. Ellie, who didn't expect her father to return until Thanksgiving, said he didn't answer her messages for three days, which heightened her excitement.

Lisa started planning the visits a little more than a week ago, once Martin's arrival time was set. Ellie, who was in JROTC class when her father came in, said, "I didn't think it was real," as she wiped away happy tears.

Smith-Cotton JROTC Senior Army Instructor Lt. Col. (Ret.) Harry Cunningham presented Martin with a JROTC battalion coin in tribute to his service; Sgt. Major Randy Woods, after detailing to the cadets the important work of military moms, presented a battalion coin to Lisa, as well.

In the photos:
PIC1: Freshman cadet Ellie Fiorino hugs her father, Air force TSgt. Martin Fiorino, as he pays a surprise visit to her JROTC class on Friday, Nov. 6, at Smith-Cotton High School. Martin returned earlier in the day from a four-month deployment in Afghanistan.

PIC2: Air Force MSgt. Lisa Fiorino, back, captures a video of her husband, TSgt. Martin Fiorino, and daughter Ellie embracing after Martin surprised Ellie at Smith-Cotton High School.

PIC3: Sgt. Major Randy Woods explains to Smith-Cotton JROTC cadets the important role of military moms before awarding Air Force MSgt. Lisa Fiorino, third from left, with a S-C JROTC battalion coin.

PIC4:  Smith-Cotton JROTC Senior Army Instructor Lt. Col. (Ret.) Harry Cunningham presents Air Force TSgt. Martin Fiorino with a JROTC battalion coin in tribute to his service on Friday at the school.