BROOKFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — There was a big surprise on Wednesday for two little girls at Brookfield Zoo and everybody at a dolphin show got to share it with them.

The girls were watching the dolphin show and had been invited to meet one of the dolphins up close, when they got a surprise reunion with their father, who had been serving with the Army in Afghanistan.

Eleven-year-old Jorja Coleman and 6-year-old Nataja Howse had been petting a dolphin when the announcer at the stadium told the crowd the girls that they were getting an extra surprise: a reunion with their father, Army Sgt. Keith Howse.

As CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reports, a stadium full of spectators cheered as the girls ran to hug their father.

“It was kind of hard to even just grasp the moment. I was just intently focused on their faces and just getting to them. So, it was probably one of the most memorable moments of my life,” Sgt. Howse said.

Howse hadn’t seen his wife and daughters since last November, when he was deployed to Afghanistan. He just returned for a two week stay.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Brandis Friedman reports

Their mother, Aja Moores, spent a week and a half setting up the special day for her daughters.

“I didn’t know because she said, he was coming Thursday, so I was very surprised,” Jorja said.

Moores said, “This is actually the zoo that I came to as a child. So, for me, this is my childhood memory. So I want that to be for my children also.”

Howse said he’ll be attending his brother’s wedding this weekend. He said his only other plan is to spend every waking moment with his daughters.