Excited to kick off their highly anticipated, week-long spring break, the Richter family piled into their minivan for a bit of fun and relaxation. Little did they know that a stowaway was hiding in the back, ready to pounce on the unsuspecting family.

Any good trip begins with a family photo, as fun-loving Dad, Erik, held up his phone and asked his family to smile. Happy to oblige, the cheerful family leaned in to say ‘cheese!’

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling

But Dad, in on a little secret, was actually taking a video instead of a picture. When his teenage daughter pointed out Dad’s supposed blunder, he pretended to act surprised.

Take two on the family photo — but this time, a dark-hooded man emerged from the back of the van. Grinning like a Cheshire cat, the man worked his head into the photo.

“Wait, Rowan, a little to the right,” ordered Dad, calling attention to the mystery man in the back. Surprise! It’s a Marine!

U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Rowan Richter, who had told his family he couldn’t make it home for spring break, couldn’t have done a better job surprising everyone. Richter had one of them screaming, while his sisters whipped their heads around to lay eyes on the jokester.

Full of laughter, Richter crawled over the seats to embrace his shocked family. “Hey, guys,” Richter casually grinned.

Richter’s mom immediately turned to her husband and accused him of being in on the joke. Laughing, Dad admitted he’d gone on a secret mission to the airport to pick up his son, and he’d done a mighty fine job of keeping the secret.

With the family back together again, spring break could officially get started. Which of course, included surprising Richter’s grandmother, who doubled over in shock seeing her grandson in her house.

Richter the trickster is just one of many military men and women who love a good homecoming ambush. This soldier caught his mom completely off guard when he inserted himself into a busy plaza, casually reading a newspaper.

For those with a loved one on deployment, be on guard — you may be the next recipient of a homecoming ambush. And maybe check your trunk before climbing into your car.

-“That’s a video…”
“Oh.”
But it’s no wonder what we captured during those next few seconds is spreading like wildfire.

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