Olivia Yurcisin, 17, did not believe her eyes Saturday when she turned around and saw her brother striding toward her and her younger sister, Sophia Bradley, 9, in the gymnasium of Elizabethtown High School.
It had been a year and 11 months since the two had last seen U.S. Navy Machinist’s Mate Petty Officer 3rd Class Isaiah Smith, 19, in person.
“I was so surprised. I turned around and I did not think it was him. ... I thought I was just dreaming or something. It was crazy,” said Yurcisin, who is on the high school’s basketball team and was surprised during Lady Panther Little League.
Bradley said she didn’t recognize him at first because he wasn’t in blue. Yurcisin agreed.
“I was confused. I’m used to seeing him in his blueberries,” she said.
Their mother, Kasey Bradley, said it was very hard to keep his arrival a secret. She even kept the secret from her mother, whom they surprised Friday evening at her work.
Yurcisin said her and Smith have always been best friends, so she was excited to see him. She said he missed her 16th and 17th birthdays.
“We act like we don’t like each other, but we really do,” she said.
In the time he’s been away, Yurcisin said Smith has matured.
“He’s not looking like a teenager anymore,” she said.
Smith said he enjoyed surprising his sisters, but it’s just nice to be home. He said he had been anxious to see his sisters since he arrived home Friday.
“They are probably my biggest supporters,” he said.
Smith said it was sometimes hard to answer calls from his sisters when he was away because of the time difference in Japan.
“We have a lot coming up after Christmas, so our chain of command wanted to make sure everybody got home because it is not guaranteed when I’ll be getting home again,” Smith said.
Yurcisin said her brother coming home for Christmas is the best gift.
“I would take that over any present,” she said.
Smith will be home until Dec. 26.