Sara Aiello has been in the U.S. Army Reserve for decades. Miraculously, over her 20 years in the service, she had never been deployed overseas. That changed late last year when she was sent to serve in Kuwait.

"I wanted to go before the end of this contract because it is something I've always wanted to do," she said.

A mother of four, Aiello left her Fairhaven family in November to train in Texas.  From Texas, she was sent to the American ally of Kuwait in the Arabian Peninsula between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Between the two stops, she was away from her family for nearly 11 months.

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Aiello found out that she was going to be shipped off back in December 2021, so she had an enormous amount of time to plan. She told her husband and some select adults but didn't share the info right away with the kids because she didn't want them to have to think about the deployment for over a year.

How did the kids take the news?

"They were so supportive," she said. "They weren't even very sad. They had expected this to eventually come and they were supportive of me. They took it really well. There was a little crying, but they were really supportive."

Aello says the holidays this year were a little non-conventional.

"The day after Halloween we put up all of the Christmas decorations. We had a tree, the presents, the lights, the Christmas movies. We celebrated our own Christmas the weekend before I left. It was just like it was Christmas morning."

Having the ability to video chat was a game changer for the family.

"I can't even imagine what it was like going overseas before video chat. Getting a regular voice phone call took so much effort. My husband is a Marine who served in (Operation) Desert Storm. It was pen and paper for him. That's it."

Aiello had the opportunity to surprise her daughter in her classroom at Wood School in Fairhaven on Friday.  Here is video from the mother/daughter reunion:

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