Sgt. Steve Nolan was not supposed to return from Afghanistan until the summer. But he came home early and gave his nieces and nephews a big surprise at their Riverside elementary school Friday. Kathy Vara reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on March 29, 2013.
After finishing his second tour of duty in Afghanistan, a U.S. Army infantry sergeant surprised his nieces and nephews by showing up at their Riverside school.
The homecoming for Steve Nolan happened Friday morning at Lake Hills Elementary School, located at 16346 Village Meadow Drive. He was originally scheduled to return during the summer.
"He's the uncle of four students here. They're very close to him. He's basically their hero. They really look up to them," said the school's principal, Jason Burns. "While he was away in Afghanistan, they wrote him letters. They missed him dearly. This is a very, very close family. They've been asking, 'When's he coming home? When's he coming home?'"
On Friday, before reciting the Pledge of Allegiance with the student body, Burns brought the soldier's nieces and nephews -- Jacob, Lucas, Melody and Elizabeth -- up on stage.
"I think we need one more person to help us. You guys want somebody else to come and help you?" Burns asked the crowd.
He then walked to the back of the stage and opened a door, revealing Nolan.
"Oh my God, I missed you," said one of the nieces, while hugging her uncle.
"Everyone in my family came out today and it's just nice to have everyone together after missing so many birthdays and Christmases," Nolan said.
Nolan was born and raised in Riverside. He attended La Sierra High School.
He served with the 2nd Battalion, 117th Infantry, based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Wash.