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If you ask fans who were at Williams-Brice Stadium on Oct. 6, they’ll likely tell you Tammy Faile had the most impressive run that afternoon.
Yes, the University of South Carolina Gamecocks defeated the Georgia Bulldogs in dominating fashion that day – led, in part, by 109 yards on the ground by star running back Marcus Lattimore. `
But that effort doesn’t compare to Faile’s enthusiastic sprint across the football field to hug her husband.
Originally from Lancaster, Faile is married to Scott Faile, a Kershaw County native who's made a career out of the U.S. Army. His tours of duty include stints in Germany, Afghanistan and Kuwait.
His most recent stop was South Korea.
With Tammy not knowing exactly when Scott’s tour would be done, she and her children were totally shocked to see him walk onto the field to greet them at Williams-Brice Stadium last month.
It was his first time seeing his family in about a year.
Planning a surprise
Scott, a first-class sergeant who works in communications, is usually given a mid-term leave when serving one-year overseas tours. But in this most recent stint in Korea, that wasn’t the case.
Scott would talk to his wife and children on a weekly basis, often communicating through real-time video chat. A few months ago, when Tammy asked when he’d be coming home, an idea came to mind – a surprise.
“I decided to do something for them,” Scott said.
So Scott told Tammy and his children that issues had arisen where he was stationed. And as a result, he wasn’t sure when he'd be able to leave.
All the while, he was laying the groundwork for what turned into a surprise reunion Oct. 6.
Scott went online and found the e-mail addresses for media relations personnel and other officials at USC. He wasn’t sure whom would be the person to message to plan a surprise at the game. But he hoped somebody attached in the e-mail could help.
“I sent them one mass e-mail,” Scott said. “I didn’t know who to get in contact with.”
Luckily, Scott got a reply from a person in media relations, who linked him with a woman who works for Columbia Metropolitan Airport. The airport often honors military families at Gamecocks games.
Unveiling the surprise
Scott told Tammy that the family had been entered in a contest that recognizes the family of military servicemen. Tammy was later told the family had won and was invited to Williams-Brice Stadium to tour the facility, meet USC personnel and attend the game.
Tammy’s brother and sister, who were also in on the secret, met the family in Columbia for the day. Several other family members and friends knew about the surprise but had to keep it on the hush.
“I think me and the children were the only ones who did not know,” Tammy said.
Tammy and their children – Breanna, 15, and Cameron, 10 – appeared on the field before kickoff, when Scott suddenly appeared on the video screen.
It was a personal message telling his wife and children that he’s proud of them, misses them and would be home “real, REAL soon.”
And real soon it was.
As soon as Tammy, Breanna and Cameron could gather themselves from seeing Scott on the large screen, the stadium announcer asked the crowd to welcome him back from Korea. He walked onto the field and his family immediately ran his way, screaming and shouting the entire time.
Tammy was the first of the three to reach him.
“All the pain I felt from the entire year was gone because I had my husband back,” she said. “I was going to get to him first.”
Tammy says Scott is quite laid back and is sure he didn’t plan the surprise for personal attention.
“He’s a very modest, humble man,” Tammy said. “He was doing this for us.”
Cameron describes the day as amazing. Weeks later, he remained stoked about being able to walk on the football field and greet the players.
And then there’s the invaluable father-son time that he is now able to enjoy again.
“He gets to go to my football games now,” Cameron said.
Since that day, the Failes have become somewhat of an Internet and media sensation. The video of the reunion at Williams-Brice Stadium was posted on YouTube and has been viewed more than 1.3 million times.
“I think it’s absolutely wonderful for everybody else to get to share in this joy and experience,” Tammy said. “My mom said I fell in love with my husband all over again.”
Good Morning America and Inside Edition are among the television shows that have reached out to the family to feature them. On Thursday, Nov. 8, America got the chance to watch the Faile’s interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, where the family was given $25,000.
“It was a little more than I imagined,” Scott said about all the attention.
“No way, shape or form did I expect it to do what it did,” he said.
Scott is stationed at Fort Gordon and the family lives nearby in the Augusta, Ga., area.
If you want to see the Faile's reunion moment, you can watch it on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUkKhRtk8VU
Contact reporter Jesef Williams at (803) 283-1152