CHESTER COUNTY, Va. -- "I love daddy!" Three words that can melt any man's heart.
The words were particularly sweet for Army Major Brian Slotnick.
The soldier, based at Fort Lee near Petersburg, heard those words Tuesday afternoon when he surprised his children at daycare.
Brian had been deployed for the last year in Afghanistan.
"They knew daddy would be home sometime after Christmas, but they did not know necessarily when," Brian's wife Maureen said.
The children, five-year-old Louie and three-year-old Scarlett, were spending the day at The Goddard School in Chester and their Army dad walked through the door during story time.
"Hello!" Brian's daughter bellowed when their eyes met.
"I love daddy!" Scarlett squealed through giggles as she made her way over to her father for a big hug.
Brian's son Louie was already there getting some needed father-son time.
"It makes you realize what a sacrifice it is, but as well, that we have the freedoms we do because of our military and our families," Maureen said.
"I am happy to be home and reunited with the family," Brian said. "I am just looking forward to some good family time."