SUMMIT COUNTY, Ohio (WJW) — A mother deployed for nearly a year surprised her son during an emotional reunion at school.

“He’s really big. When he went to hug me, I was like, ‘Whoa.’ I had to catch him a little bit,” said Ashley White, who is now home from deployment.

Her son, Billy White, a first lieutenant in the Junior ROTC Air Force program at Green High School, was so locked into his drill presentation in front of teachers and classmates that he nearly missed his mother standing beside him, before embracing her in a tearful reunion.

“It’s been pretty rough, but we’ve gotten through,” said the teen.

Billy was up early Thursday with his fellow cadets, training for upcoming regional and national Junior ROTC competitions, when he received the heartwarming surprise.

Ashley, a sergeant first class in the United States Army Reserve, was deployed for 11 months, stationed in Djibouti, Africa, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

“You feel like you’re missing everything,” White said, standing next to her son. “He’s really tall. I can’t get over how tall you are. I feel like I missed everything. I’m really proud of him. I’m proud of my family. I’m proud of my friends. I’m so grateful for the support that we had and it helped me get through the mission so I’m happy to be home.”