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It was a moment of complete surprise that left Anne Marie Karnbach literally shaking with delight Thursday.

Her husband, Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Karnbach, was supposed to be at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he is deployed as a Navy reservist. But he had secretly arranged with military superiors to attend a ceremony in Washington, D.C., where his family was to be honored as Our Military Kids’ 2012 Military Family of the Year. When he appeared on stage, his stunned family swarmed upon him, engulfing him in embraces with arms and legs wrapped around his body.

The event was hosted by Our Military Kids, a nonprofit organization that helps families of deployed servicemembers by giving grants that allow military children to participate in extracurricular events. Since 2005, the organization has awarded $14 million dollars in grants and each year chooses among the grantees a family and individual children to honor.

On Thursday, besides honoring the Karnbach couple and their two children Christopher, 9, and Abigail, 7, the organization recognized the accomplishments of five other military children who were named Our Military Kids of the Year. They were:

Jonathan Harrell, 10, from Charleston, W. Va., who received a grant to continue piano lessons while his father was deployed to Afghanistan with the Army National Guard.

Baleigh Wheeler, 15, from Greenville, Va., who received a grant to continue dance classes during her father’s deployment to Afghanistan with the Army National Guard.

Sydney Schmidt, 16, a flute player from Hayfield, Minn., who received a grant that helped her go on a trip with her school band to Disney World in Florida, while her father was deployed to Kuwait with the Army Reserve.

Decorda Owens, 13, from Starkville, Miss., who received a grant to take hip-hop dance classes when his father deployed to Afghanistan with the Army National Guard.

Anya Alexis Wilkie, 7, from Brighton, Ill., who received a grant to attend a violin camp while her father was deployed to Kuwait with the Army National Guard.

bongioannic@stripes.osd.mil

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