VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) --An army sergeant gives us a lesson in covert operations when he kept a secret from his family and gave them a big surprise.
If home is where the heart is then Army Sgt Eddie Martinez left his in Visalia nine months ago. With his wife and kids.
Eddie was in Iraq on his second deployment. On Thursday, when he showed up, the door couldn't open fast enough.
His wife, Angie Martinez, had no idea he was coming home ,and his little boy, Jordan, didn't either.
Eddie had gifts for his boy and he also had flowers for his wife, and in return, she handed him their baby girl. His second child, baby Juliyna who was born seven months ago while Eddie was in Iraq.
"I was trying to put her to sleep, moms like, 'no, she's not tired,'" said Angie.
He missed her birth but he did get to watch her grow.
Technology helped-- with pictures and Skype. Both Jordan and Juliyna also had dolls with Eddie's face to cling to, but holding his daughter for the first time, Eddie said, was something special.
"Sometimes you have to do what's best for them, and I'm just glad I'm able to provide for them and give them everything I didn't have growing up."
Comfort for Eddie is knowing his family understands.
"He means everything, he holds our family together," said Angie.
And in four short days, he will have to leave again to debrief for a few weeks. While he's gone, they will likely keep their dolls close but nothing beats the real thing and being together at home, even just for a short while.