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Air Force wife gets ‘traumatic’ surprise

MELBOURNE, Fla. -- Posing as a trauma patient Aug. 11 at Holmes Regional Medical Center, Staff Sgt. Michael Nardone, 1st Range Operations Squadron, surprises his wife, ultrasound technician Lead Nardone, after returning from his deployment in Germany. "I wasn't expecting it at all," said Mrs. Narone. "We were told it was a trauma. I'm traumatized." (Courtesy photo/Andrew Knapp, FLORIDA TODAY)

MELBOURNE, Fla. -- Posing as a trauma patient Aug. 11 at Holmes Regional Medical Center, Staff Sgt. Michael Nardone, 1st Range Operations Squadron, surprises his wife, ultrasound technician Lead Nardone, after returning from his deployment in Germany. "I wasn't expecting it at all," said Mrs. Narone. "We were told it was a trauma. I'm traumatized." (Courtesy photo/Andrew Knapp, FLORIDA TODAY)

MELBOURNE, Fla. -- Five minutes before her shift ended Thursday night, Aug. 11, sonograph technician Leah Nardone got the call: A trauma patient, lying in a downstairs emergency room, needed immediate attention.

Mrs. Nardone, an intern in Holmes Regional Medical Center's trauma wing, wheeled equipment to the room. She slid apart the curtain. She saw her patient resting under a white sheet.

The 27-year-old gasped. Her left hand - a large diamond ring adorning one finger - covered her mouth. There were tears.

On the stretcher - flanked by tubes, trays and readout screens - was her husband, Staff Sgt. Michael Nardone. Dressed in a green Air Force flying suit, Sergeant Nardone was returning from a seven-month deployment in Germany two weeks early. He was fine.

This was his attempt at a surprise. And it worked.

"I wasn't expecting it at all," said Mrs. Nardone. "We were told it was a trauma.

"I'm traumatized."

Sergeant Nardone, a member of the 1st Range Operations Squadron based at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, met his future wife in Japan when they both served in the military. They wed in 2006.

The 28-year-old Airman thought about coming home in a cardboard box, and jumping out to the surprise of his wife and their two children, aged 4 years and 22 months.

But Mrs. Nardone, now a student at Keiser University, loves her job and her husband. So, Sergeant Nardone thought, what's better Air Force wife gets 'traumatic' surprise than combining the two?

"I like being spontaneous," he said. "This was something she'd remember. So the next time, for deployment, there will be a little happy note."

His head rested on the gurney, and the couple embraced. They kissed. TV microphones captured every lip smack, every "I love you."

"Definitely the best patient ever," she said. "Most remarkable, at least."