TUSCALOOSA, AL -- A son who hadn't seen his mother in months received the best graduation gift he could hope for. Petty Officer 2nd Class Vera Turner surprised her son, Steven Turner Jr., at his high school graduation in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
The school helped hatch the special moment between Turner and her son. Turner, who has served in the US Navy for 16 years, arrived early Saturday at Coleman Coliseum for the ceremony after a nine month deployment to Guantanamo Bay. She decided a month ago to plan the surprise and didn't tell the rest of her family.
Steven sat in the crowd as the names of the other graduates were called.
"I got really worried and nervous. I thought she forgot my name," Steven told WBMA-TV.
The school deliberately put Steven last in the diploma line, as his mother was hiding off stage until the moment his name was called. When his name was finally called, he was surprised to see the superintendent and principal step back instead of shake his hand. Then he saw his mom climb the stairs on the opposite end of the stage.
"It means so much to me, the whole word, " Steven said. "I thought she wasn't going to make it."
They hugged for several minutes - bringing tears to the eyes of several people in the audience who responded with thunderous applause.
"All he could say was, 'Thank you, mama, thank you, I love you,'" Vera said. null
VIDEO: Military mom surprises son at high school graduation