Many brave men and women risk their lives for their country. However, their spouses are the ones that have to cope with the suffering of missing them for days on end. When Dr. Joshua Splinter from the Texas Army National Guard found out he would be returning home early from deployment, he wanted to surprise his wife, Alice. Alice was looking after their children and finishing her residency. It was hard to keep up such a busy schedule without her husband by her side. Luckily for her, what was about to follow would be the best thing that could possibly happen. Joshua had an idea to top all other homecoming surprises.
When two or more loved ones reunite, there is no better feeling in the world. It is famously said that distance makes the heart grow fonder, and this story proves exactly that.
From high school reunions to meeting up with old work pals to bumping into an old acquaintance on the street, there are fewer reunions happier than seeing a loved one after a long time. However, we are not talking about returning after a week’s work trip in which you Skyped every hour…
Joshua Splinter, M.D., was hired by physicians to do some information technology work. However, his work experience caused him to think about medicine as a possible career field instead.
“When I chose to apply to medical school, I was just a kid fixing computers in the Houston area,” he said. Splinter decided to pursue family medicine because “it just fit,” and it was here he met his future wife, a medical student at UT Houston, Alice Splinter.
From Medical Center To The Field
Splinter became interested in procedural medicine, obstetrics, full-scope care for underserved populations, and teaching medical students and residents.
However, as well as becoming a well-respected member of the Texas Academy of Family Physicians and earning Member of the Month back in 2013, he does a lot more for his community. Splinter also serves the Texas Army National Guard part-time as a field surgeon. When asked how he spends his spare time, Splinter said, “with my wife.”
Texas Army National Guard
The Texas Army National Guard units are trained and equipped as part of the United States Army. They use the same ranks and insignia. It is composed of around 19,000 soldiers and maintains 117 armories and 103 communities.
Splinter and his team respond to domestic emergencies, combat missions, counterdrug efforts, reconstruction missions, and more. He used his skills and knowledge to take on the role of a surgeon, and while his job was rewarding and his family was supportive, there were many downfalls.
It is always a heartbreaking experience when families have to say goodbye to their loved ones. Just like a child counting down until their birthday or Christmas day, every day members of the family think of the moment when they get to see each other again.
This is especially true for those who have to go off to perform their duties in the military. Dr. Joshua Splinter had to say goodbye to his wife and children for not just one month, but five.
Being A Mother
While her husband went to the Port of Africa for five months, Alice Splinter was holding down the fort back at home, being a mother and working hard to support and look after the family.
It is not easy being a single mom, but it is even harder when you have a loving husband who is around but unable to help. But being a mother was not the only job Alice was doing while her husband served his time.
Following Her Residency
Dr. Alice Splinter had also packed up her family’s belongings, took the kids, and moved to a new town to finish up her residency and take a new job with Lakeland Medical Associates.
Moving to a new town is not easy for anyone and it takes a strong woman to do it alone with children. Her husband knew how hard it was for her to do this all on her own while he, fortunately, had it relatively easy by comparison.
Holding Everything Together
Being the caring man, husband, and dad that he was, Joshua Splinter praised his wife while he was away for those lengthy five months.
“In the meantime, while I was there deployed … she was really just holding everything together while I was just out, you know, having fun.” He almost felt guilty that he was having a good time as an army surgeon when he knew his wife was just about managing to get breakfast on the table.
Military spouses know all too well the feeling of patiently waiting for their beloved husband or wife to return home from deployment. The time period is often a long, stressful, and worry-filled one.
Many military spouses get together to share their emotions or simply just hang out and distract themselves from missing their partners. Alice knew this feeling well, and just like her, many other spouses out there count down the days until they are reunited with their loved ones.
Worth The Benefits
While being a military wife or husband is extremely difficult, it also comes with many benefits. Many spouses receive financial assistance for many areas such as licenses or degrees.
But are these really worth your spouse being away for months at a time? One blogger, Amy Byrne, described her position as a military wife saying it takes a certain type of person for the role; “You have to be tolerant. You have to be flexible. You have to be resilient.”
Amy Byrne has also written a blog providing “6 things I wish people knew about my life.” While we all assume it must be difficult to be a military wife, we probably can’t imagine the extent of it.
As well as mentioning that not every woman is fit for the role, she adds that it is a sacrifice. She says it “encourages marriage without making it known that civilian wellbeing is not a priority.” This is exactly how Alice must have been feeling.
Finding Out The News
Meanwhile, Joshua Splinter found out the news from the Texas Army that he was able to come home much earlier than expected. Splinter’s first thoughts were to call up his wife and family and let them know, but then other ideas came rushing into his mind.
Rather than telling Alice the good news, he let her continue to think he was coming home on the day agreed and to continue ticking off the days on her calendar.
A Surprise She Would Never Forget
After watching countless military homecomings on the internet over the last few years, Splinter decided he should also surprise his wife.
From military members greeting their dogs to surprising their kids at school, the videos shared online recently have brought people from all over the world to tears and Joshua Splinter wanted to make his wife feel as happy as the people in the videos looked and give her a surprise she would never forget.
Among the many amazing videos that Joshua saw online was this one. In 2017, a mom from Florida received the surprise of her life when her military son popped out of the trunk of a car.
They had been apart from each other for more than two years. The U.S. naval soldier Lee Jackson jumped out of his aunt’s car to surprise his mom. Instantly she jumped into his arms and hugged her son, a very emotional time. But could Splinter top that?
Similarly, in 2016, an Army dad from Delaware surprised his deaf daughter during her normal school day. David Opperman had been deployed overseas for seven months, the longest period in 20 years and he made an arrangement with his daughter’s school to miss part of class every Wednesday so they could Skype.
However, on one particular Wednesday, Opperman was actually in the school when he began chatting with his daughter. After hanging up he walked into the room and surprised her. Dr. Splinter knew what he needed to do.
Before going ahead, Joshua needed to make sure that his wife had absolutely no idea that he was home. In order not to ruin the surprise, he had to tell a fib and pretended he was still in a different time zone when in fact he was much closer than Alice realized.
“I’m talking to her on the phone and I’m having to say, ‘Alright, I have to go to bed,’ but really it’s the same time. Otherwise, this is all gonna give it away,” Joshua said.
Setting It Up
Joshua realized he could not pull off the plan on his own. After collaborating with a friend, he finally found the perfect way to give her that shock of a lifetime.
Enlisting his friend from the clinic, Dr. Swartwood, for help, Joshua managed to secretly slip into his wife’s medical clinic and was put into a patient room where he patiently waited for what was about to come next. He sat upon the patient chair, heart racing.
Calling The Doctor
Dr. Stwartwood, who was in on the plan, left nervous Joshua in the room and went off to get Dr. Alice Splinter. The co-worker explained to Alice that she had an appointment now and her patient was waiting for her.
What she didn’t know was that he had actually set it up himself under a fake name. Alice did not think anything of it, after all, this was her day-to-day job. She followed the doctor back to her patient room.
A Normal Day
For Dr. Alice Splinter, her day was no different to any other. She dressed in her standard gear consisting of a black tee and patterned jeans. Feeling a little extra that morning, she complimented her outfit with quirky pumps with kitten faces on.
Alice had attended a pediatrics residency at the University of Texas Health Science Center after receiving her medical degree and had recently become a pediatrician. She was working in her final residency at Lakeland medical center in Athens, Texas.
Bigger Than Expected
While Alice tends to see children as patients, given her profession as a pediatrician, she was about to have a big shock. This time around her patient would not be as small as her usual visitors.
Strolling to the room behind her co-worker, Dr. Startwood, Alice headed into the room, with documents and papers under one arm. Opening the door, Dr. Startwood announced, “Let me introduce you to Dr. Splinter…” Alice followed in and greeted her patient with a, “Hi.”
Almost Passed Out
After saying “Hi” to her patient, it is impossible not to notice the instant change of reaction as her eyes clocked signals to her brain that this patient was, in fact, her husband.
“It took a second for me to take it in,” Alice said. “I honestly almost passed out.” Alice was stunned, “My knees got a little weak, but I was so happy to see him I just tried to hug him and stand there and take in the moment.”
Pulling It Off
Alice went from a “Hi” to “Oh my God,” before leaping in for the heartwarming hug, dropping her papers to the ground without a care in the world. There was no hesitation, only shock and happiness.
Joshua then lifted her straight off the ground and the pair hugged for seconds. He had pulled off his plan and the moment was emotional, so much so his friend left the room to give the couple space. But there was more to the surprise than just Joshua, his wife, and friend.
Caught On Camera
The emotional moment was entirely captured on video, which Joshua set up. He initially spoke into the camera saying, “So my wife doesn’t know I’m here.” He then added, “I’m way more nervous than I thought I would be,” before putting the camera down to get a good angle.
The video went online and, just like the homecoming videos he had watched himself, Joshua’s surprise went viral, bringing many people to tears. But how can he top such a surprise again?
When the video of Joshua surprising his wife was released, it was posted on the discussion website, Reddit. The video had gone viral and responses were flooding in. Some found themselves emotional from the video.
One said, “Oh my god, my heart is crying,” while another explained, “This makes me believe love is one of the most precious things to have in one’s life.” On the other hand, plenty of others decided to take the humorous route…
Ridiculing The System
“She almost didn’t recognize him because of all the camo he’s wearing,” said one comment. However, the majority of the Reddit responses were ridiculing the US modern health system.
One wrote, “If she’s anything like my doctor, he probably had to wait longer for her to get in the room then she did for him to come home from war.” Meanwhile, another subscriber wondered, “One day, one of these surprise videos will go terribly wrong.” In fact, they have…
Surprise Gone Wrong
While Joshua Splinter’s surprise homecoming was a successful one, others have wished themselves on the next flight back to the military.
When one soldier decided to surprise his parents at a hockey game during a puck drop, he did not expect to nearly break his father’s back. Noticing his son in uniform enter the stadium, they ran towards each other, ready for a grand reunion. But son and father forgot that under this red carpet was a floor of ice…
A Slippery Surprise
Meeting in the middle, the soldier’s father picks his son up into the air, overwhelmed with emotion. However, stumbling over the red carpet, the soldier falls onto his father who drops onto his back, banging his head on the cold ice.
However, the elderly man did not seem to mind as he was in such shock to see his son return home from Afghanistan early. As Joshua’s surprise went so well, what did Alice make of it?
It is clear from the video that given their reactions, Joshua had succeeded with his plan. Although overwhelmed, Alice was extremely grateful that he had returned home.
“This was the greatest surprise, I’m happy to have him home,” she shared, “I missed him quite a bit.” It looks as though the couple will be able to spend plenty of time together as Joshua is going to work with his wife and isn’t planning on deploying again in the near future. Aw!