soldier 2 - 50Little 12-year-old Camryn Wood pushed away the bow and quickly opened the huge Christmas present at her school, Granard Middle in Gaffney, just before Christmas. Her mouth then flew open, her arms shot skyward, her bottom lip immediately poked out, and large tears began rolling down her cheeks.

The surprise package contained a very special Christmas gift – her dad, Limestone College alum Major Jason G. Wood, 42, of Gaffney, who had been deployed to Afghanistan since May, was hiding in the festive present. And neither Camryn nor her little 7-year-old brother, Christian, who was also helping unwrap the package, knew that dad was inside.

The student body squealed and clapped, many of the teachers and guests wiped tears from their eyes, and wife Angel – who was in on the surprise – rushed over to join the family hug-fest.

“I wanted to do it to surprise the kids and also to give something back to the Gaffney community which has always been so patriotic and supportive,” Major Wood said. “I had no idea that it would go nationwide like it did.”

TV stations on hand sent the footage to their networks who spread it across the country. Major Wood said he heard from friends and relatives from across the USA.

Major Wood is a 2000 graduate of Limestone who received his Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Columbia Southern in 2009. He is a 1989 graduate of Gaffney High School. His mom and dad, Jimmy and Irene Wood, still live here.

The Major got to stay through the holidays with his family before going back to Afghanistan in mid-January for four additional months. He serves as an Advisor for the Afghan National Police on matters of information, communication and technology.

“I get to use all those things I learned at Limestone,” he says with a laugh.

(Story and photos compliments of Tommy Martin, The Cherokee Chronicle newspaper, Gaffney)

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