Local News

Holiday leave is a gift for Fayetteville family

Posted December 24, 2010 7:38 p.m. EST

A Fayetteville family got the greatest gift this Christmas, courtesy of the U.S. Army.

Specialist Benjamin Bell, who has spent the last four Christmases away from home on one deployment or another, got to spend the holidays at home this year.

Through some luck and Christmas magic, Bell's 15-day R&R corresponds with Christmas, New Year's, his son's birthday and his wedding anniversary.

"Oh I was excited. What, did I scream? Yeah," said his wife, Kerri Bell.

Benjamin Bell is about halfway through a 12-month stint in Iraq.

Kerri, 27, had planned his arrival as a surprise for her children, Allison, Justin and Taylor. He was scheduled to show up at their school, Benjamin Martin Elementary.

"It would be a good thing to come up there and surprise the kids and everything. I was looking forward to it," he said.

But that surprise visit was interrupted by another surprise -- a snow day.

When school was canceled Dec. 16, the principal called Kerri Bell to apologize.

So she and the kids packed up the car and drove to the airport.

"I had to hold their shirts so they wouldn't run through the airport security. I was holding them by the collar," she said.

The trio couldn't wait to get their hands on their Christmas gift -- daddy.

Kerri Bell says having her husband home for the holidays, safe, is the best gift she could have this year.

Benjamin Bell will head back to Iraq on Jan. 1.