Maryland Heights, MO (KSDK) - Marine Sergeant Eric DeSplinter hasn't seen his six year-old daughter, Chyler, since his second deployment to Afghanistan last September.
"This is definitely the longest I've been away from her," said DeSplinter. "It's been really difficult this time. This was her first year of school and I left before her first day and missed her last day. I missed her entire first year of school and she's definitely grown up a lot."
During his deployment, DeSplinter was able to stay in touch with his daughter and wife, Kelly, over the phone and internet.
"During the first deployment she was young enough that she really didn't have a grasp on it," said Kelly, DeSplinter. "This time she understood daddy was gone and where he was."
On Saturday, DeSplinter surprised his daughter by showing up to her dance recital. When DeSplinter stepped onto the stage, Chyler ran to him, screaming "Daddy." DeSplinter wrapped his daughter in a long and tearful hug, whispering, "I missed you."
Chyler wasn't expecting her dad home for at least another day.
"There's no more incredible feeling than having him home again," said Kelly DeSplinter. "My family is finally back together."
"There's nothing better than coming home to your family," said Eric DeSplinter. "Those hugs and kisses you get when you finally get to see your family, it's just indescribable."
DeSplinter and his family will spend two weeks at home in St. Louis before heading to Marine Base Camp Pendleton in California.