There were nerves and nostalgia among the nearly 400 Goose Creek High School students who made their entrance, loved ones there to capture the proud moment.
Among the graduates was Nicolas Schott, who had prepared a military tribute as his father waited in the wings.
"My dad has missed more birthdays and Christmases than I can ever remember, and today he will not see me graduate."
Nicolas last saw his dad, Staff Sergeant Jamie Schott, six months ago. Schott was in Kuwait and returned to his base in Fort Knox, Kentucky on May 4th, keeping the surprise under wraps for more than three weeks.
"Up until about 45 minutes ago, I had my location services turned off on my phone."
"He's never seen me wrestle in person, and that was a big thing for me. He's never seen me play football, but it’s fine because it's the thing he does. He's serving. That's great for everybody."
Understanding words from a son for a father who fulfilled his latest mission.