Soldier surprises wife as waiter, returns home for holidays

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - You might have happy memories of going to a restaurant for a birthday or a retirement party. But, at a Sioux Falls restaurant earlier today, a woman cried tears of joy after receiving the surprise of a lifetime. Her husband is returning home after his fourth deployment overseas.

The lunch rush is on at Blarney Stone Pub in downtown Sioux Falls. The tables are set, and the drinks are being served. But, one waiter looks a little different than the rest. It is U.S. Army Sergeant First-Class Donald Richards, who is very obviously, not part of the wait staff there.

"Just got married right before I got deployed about three months before I deployed," he said.

In the spirit of the Holiday season, he has a little trick up his sleeve. Ashlyn Richards is Donald's wife. The last time the two were together in the same place was ten months ago. She has no idea who will be serving her lunch.

Armed with glasses of water, SFC Richards heads over to his unsuspecting wife's table and asks if she would like to take her order. She covers her face and starts to cry, asking, "what the hell are you doing here?"

"Just like what is happening," she said. "So, yup, that's why that came out, sorry."

There is no reason to be sorry when the surprise was this big — all orchestrated by her husband, friend Sarah, and father-in-law Ronald.

"It wasn't really me just pulling it off," Ronald Richards, father of Donald, said. "I think there was a combined effort between Don and his deception plan, Sarah has been working on this for a while. Blarney Pub was fantastic, they took that whole idea and ran with it."

The restaurant ran with the idea, and the surprise went off without a hitch from tricking Ashlyn into thinking Donald was in Texas to the behind the scenes recording. But, most importantly, Ashlyn is happy to have her husband home.

"I always planned on him being home for Christmas, but going through decorating, and wrapping presents, and shopping and all that Holiday stuff was hard without him," she said. "So, it's good he came home a little earlier than expected."

Next, they are going to surprise both of their kids and then be heading to Mexico for their honeymoon later this month.