ROCKLAND (CBS) – Three boys from Rockland got an early Christmas present when their dad surprised them after a long deployment in Africa.

Sgt. Michael Leone surprised his sons, 5-year-old Nathan, 6-year-old Tolan, and 8-year-old Tyler at Esten Elementary School Friday.

Sgt. Leone dressed up as the school’s bulldog mascot in order to keep his homecoming a secret. He posed for a picture with his boys before removing the head of the costume.

Sgt. Michael Leone surprises his three sons at Esten Elementary School (Image credit Rockland Public Schools)

“The whole surprise went really well, and the kids didn’t see it coming,” said Leone, a member of the 181st Infantry Regiment of the Massachusetts Army National Guard.

Esten Principal Marilyn Smith said people were screaming and teachers were crying.

“The whole event was really well planned and it was a great feeling to be able to surprise my children like that,” Leone said.

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