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WATCH: Soldier Santa gives mom big surprise on Christmas

Posted at 11:00 AM, Dec 27, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-27 11:00:31-05

BRICK TOWNSHIP, NJ (WABC) -- A New Jersey woman had a wish come true this Christmas when her son, an army specialist she believed was in Afghanistan, surprised her at work.

Leslie Ruggiero believed her son Travis was still on a nine-month tour in Afghanistan.

However, he donned a red suit and white beard to surprise his mother, who works as a maternity ward nurse at Ocean Medical Center.

Travis said he thought his mom would “probably just bawl her eyes out” when she discovered he was the guy in the Santa suit.

Leslie was clueless about what was about to happen and had only been told that all the nurses were getting gifts from Santa.

“We have a special Santa that's come all the way from the North Pole.

Travis had been hiding out in Brick Township for a couple of days, even pretending he was still in Afghanistan when his mom called.

As the names were draw, Leslie's name was called first. She cried when she saw it was a gift and card from her son, Travis, who she believed was still in Afghanistan.

A stunned Leslie turned around to see her son, who promptly lifted her off the ground for a big hug.

Travis said his mom's care packages kept him going and that everyone should reach out to someone in need.

He also brought home a special gift, an ornament with a handwritten message. However, his mother said she already feels like she received the best gift of all.

“Christmas for me is family. So it changes everything for me,” Leslie said.