The best Christmas gift: a surprise early homecoming from Dad

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - A Dad who has been away from his family on deployment for nearly a year wanted to give his kids the Christmas presents they wanted most: him home for the holidays.

Dexter Carter has been gone for nearly a year. He said calls home to his family only remind him of what he's missing. He has a five-year-old, four-year-old, three-year-old and a one-year-old.

"I'm out in Bahrain, working as a dog handler. The country's okay but there's no family, no kids. It's just rough dealing with that," said Carter.

But a recent call prompted the idea for a surprise homecoming.

"My oldest when asked what he wanted for Christmas, was Daddy. It broke me down to the point where I needed to figure out how I could come home for Christmas," said Carter.

He took action and teamed up with Patrick Henry Mall. The mall told his wife, she and the kids won a free photo session with Santa and invited News 3 to catch the reunion. Carter said he feels like it's all a dream.

"I've been waiting for so long and it's to the point where you tend to forget how the hugs feel and how their voices sound," said Carter.

Now, he can give as many hugs as he wants and also help his wife, Mohini, with chores.

"I definitely did miss changing diapers, especially this little one out here. I definitely miss it. Get out of being a Sailor and going back into being a Father where I'mm extremely happy about going," said Carter.

After this Christmas break, Carter will be gone for another six months.