Soldier’s return brings tears and cheers at Nats Park (VIDEO)

Sgt. Hector Banda\'s return surprised his children, Ethan and Penny, and his wife, Melissa. (WTOP/Andrew Mollenbeck)

WASHINGTON – Acts of Natitude are pretty common during Nationals games, but rarely do they bring baseball fans to tears.

But that’s just what happened during Thursday’s game.

With all four racing presidents standing by, Melissa Banda and her two children, Ethan and Penny, watched Sgt. Hector Banda appear on the big screen with an “I miss you” message from Afghanistan.

Banda, who’s been deployed for the past five months, is a big Nats fan. He ended his message with “Go Nats.”

Families of military members are frequently in attendance and shown on the big screen at Nats Park. But this time, there was more in store for Melissa and the kids, who were in D.C. on vacation.

After Hector Banda’s message, he stepped out from behind the racing presidents to surprise his family.

Seven-year-old Ethan absolutely couldn’t believe it.

He jumped up and gave his father a hug so big that it brought cheers and tears from the more than 44,000 fans at the game.

“I thought I’d be a little more calm but once I got to see my wife and kids, I was in shock,” Hector Banda said.

Emotions also ran high for Melissa, who was holding 2-year-old Penny.

“I was just overwhelmed with joy – the kids being in shock to see him,” Melissa Banda said.

Watch the video below from ABC 7 for more:

WTOP’s Andrew Mollenbeck and Colleen Kelleher contributed to this report. Follow Andrew, Colleen and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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