A U.S. military sergeant disguised herself as a referee at her son's Nebraska high school football game — adding a little twist on the always heartwarming surprise military family reunion —and the ploy almost worked too well.
Sgt. Javelle Crowder had just returned to Nebraska from after her third tour in Afghanistan, this one being 10 months.
When an announcer welcomed Crowder home, her son Jovan, a senior linebacker for Bellevue West High School, scanned the crowd for his mother not realizing she was a few feet away.
Crowder, dressed in a black-and-white stripped referee shirt, removed her black baseball cap before Jovan recognized his mom and embraced her immediately, lifting her up in the air.
"I can't believe you didn't recognize me!" she teased.
"I didn't," he said, smiling.
"Give me another hug! I love you, baby."
"I love you, too, Mom!"
The heartfelt embraces thrilled the crowd.
"We are a military community, so it was very well-received," was how Kevin Broderick, the assistant principal and activities director, described the moment they hugged.
Broderick, who helped organize the surprise, got a phone call from Crowder’s brother saying that he would love to take her to the football game.
"I got together with my principal and figured this would be a unique experience," Broderick said.
Indeed it was.