‘I’m not going back at all:’ Army SSgt. surprises children with homecoming after year of deployment

NBC WWBT Saturday 7 pm - VOD - clipped version

LOUISA, Va. (WWBT) - Saturday in the lion’s den of Louisa County high school, wrestling teams from the area tested their mettle on the mats during the 2019 David Wells Memorial Wrestling Tournament.

While most of the athletes were only concerned with competition, the top priority for the parent of two Louisa wrestlers has nothing to do with sports and everything to do with family.

"I’m extremely excited and nervous,” said Army Staff Sergeant Robert Torbush.

Torbush has been serving in the United States Army overseas in Korea as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Specialist. Torbush hasn’t seen his family for over a year, but now he says he’s been scheduled to come back home long term at Fort Belvoir.

"My return date happened to coincide really closely with this tournament so my wife contacted the wrestling coach Charlie Elkins and said we would like to surprise the kids at the tournament,” said Torbush.

So that’s just what they did. During the tournament, the coach called for a surprise intermission in the competition for a team photo and a special ceremony. Little did Torbush’s sons Nick and Tyler know, that the SSgt. sneaked in the gymnasium right behind the team as coach Elkins began to speak over the loudspeaker.

"I’ve got a special visitor,” said Elkins. “This is Tyler and Nick Torbush’s father!”

Torbush’s sons broke away from the team and rushed into their father’s arms hugging him with tears in their eyes.

"I just saw my dad walking up and I was like ‘Wait is that really him?’” said Nick.

"I didn’t know if I was supposed to stay with the team or run and hug him, and after going back and forth, I was like 'Screw it,’ I’m going to go hug him,” said Tyler.

Torbush’s three daughters who were watching from the stands also rushed in for a family group hug.

“I’m not going back, I’m not going back at all,” said Torbush between the embrace of his family.

Torbush’s wife Crystal says she couldn’t be happier.

"There were a lot of days where I would just cry and say ‘I can’t do this anymore I need you to come home it’s hard especially with seven kids,’” said Crystal.

"That’s what makes her the real hero,” said Torbush. "She was a single stay at home mom while working and finishing a degree during the time I was gone, with seven kids.”

Crystal admitted that Torbush actually came home Tuesday and says the SSgt. actually hid from his children for nearly five days so that he could surprise them at their wrestling tournament.

"I’ve been hiding out for the last few days,” said Torbush. “There was a 14-hour difference in Korea, so I was still getting up early in the morning to call the kids and talk to them like I was still over there.”

Torbush says one of the best parts about the reunion is that he will be able to see his sons compete in wrestling meets face to face. While overseas, Torbush says his wife would record their son’s wrestling matches live so that he could cheer them on.

Nick says hearing his father cheer him on Saturday pushed him to win his matches.

"When he’s in the stands, even with the adrenaline running and the whistles blowing and all that, I could still hear him yelling my name saying 'Go Nick!’” said Nick

Torbush says he sees this homecoming as an early Christmas gift that he doesn’t take for granted.

"Knowing that the job that I have is dangerous I’m always grateful to be able to come home to my family, said Torbush.”

Torbush says he will be stationed at Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Va. at least until his youngest daughter, who is in the 6th grade, graduates high school.

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