OLYPHANT---Richard Hill of Carbondale, known as Ricky, returned home after a Naval deployment this month and surprised a group of kids in Olyphant Tuesday afternoon.
Mr. Ricky was a pre-k teacher and caregiver at 'Here We Grow Childcare' in Olyphant.
In 2012, he joined the Navy and for the past 9 months, he has been at sea, aboard a nuclear aircraft carrier in the near the Gulf of Aden.
He returned this month and decided to surprise the kids he used to care for by showing up in uniform at the childcare center.
"I can't even begin to describe how good it feels to be back home around my family and my friends and the kids of course. It's almost overwhelming," he said.
The visit stunned the kids, who rushed to greet and hug 'Mr. Ricky,' shouting with surprise.
"It was a big surprise. I didn't know he was going to be here," said 8-year-old Nathan Sadak of Olyphant.
"I thought it was just an ordinary day, it was a big surprise and then I'm like screaming and stuff and I'm telling all the news that happened," said Mikayla McPherson of Olyphant.
While Hill was deployed, the kids from the center sent packages and cards to him.
He said those really helped get him through.
"I'll tell you what, that's, I can't even describe the feeling when you're out there and you get something like that. It changes your whole day," Hill said.
Ricky's mom, Angie Scalzo, who operates the childcare center, is just as happy he is back and proud of what he has done for his country.
"It's unbelievable. Nine months was a long deployment, so it's just thrilling when you have him home and safe and all the other sailors safe."
Hill will have to return to Norfolk, Virginia in the next few weeks and from there go to California.