Webcams are pretty standard these days; just about every tourist attraction has one. Fortunately for Air Force Staff Sergeant Dan Corman, there's even a webcam at the Eilean Donan castle in Scotland.
Dan is from Valrico. But he and his family are stationed in England. Right now, he's deployed to Afghanistan, 4,000 miles from his family.
His wife Nicole and daughter, Avery and Ansley decided to take a trip to the Eilean Donan castle to get their minds off of Dan's deployment. So the day they were supposed to be there, Dan got online, looking for fun facts about the castle.
"I got to their website, reading up on it, and noticed they had a link for a webcam overlooking the grounds," he told FOX 13 via Facetime. "And I clicked on it."
He thought his family was still hours away from arriving at the castle.
"And no kidding, less than two minutes of me being at my desk with the webcam up, I see this beautiful woman walk into frame with this bright blue coat."
That blue coat was unmistakable to Dan.
"Then she was followed by a couple of little girls, one wearing a bright pink jacket. So unmistakably it was my wife and my two girls."
Dan says his heart began to jump.
"Well first it skipped a beat and then it started racing when I realized that it was her," he continued. "I started taking screen shots. Because there's no doubt she wouldn't believe a word of it. So I needed some proof."
Then his heart sunk as his family started to walk out of the frame of the camera.
"After they took in the view, they started to cross the bridge and I was like, 'No, I need more time.' So I gave her a call on her cell and I told her she looked beautiful today. She was a little confused, so I had to elaborate and I told her I could see her on the webcam and I wanted her to come back."
Nicole, also via Facetime, told us she didn't believe Dan.
"I got the call and he was just like 'You look gorgeous today.' And I said, 'Thanks. What are you talking about?' He said, 'I can see you. And I said no you can't.'"
But then Dan started pointing out the picnic tables in the back and other markers. Nicole said she realized he was there -- kind of.
"So we all looked into the camera and the girls, they're waving and screaming, 'Daddy, Daddy!" continued Nicole.
Dan started grabbing more screen shots.
"She called them over and they posed for a couple of pictures, well, screen shots, for me to take. And that was the greatest day in Afghanistan."
Dan and Nicole are high school sweethearts from Bloomingdale High School in Valrico. Both of their families still live there.
Betty and Keith Corman are not surprised by their son getting reconnected in such an unusual way with his family.
"I'm not surprised at all. If there is a way to do it. If there's a way to see his family," said Keith Corman.
Betty added, "It's just amazing it happened so quickly. He could have been looking for hours."
Some of their friends have called it a "love letter from God."
Nicole joked that she might just try to plan some more trips around places with webcams.
"It was a really great moment."
But Nicole too, is not surprised by her husband.
"Dan always finds a way. If there's a way to do something, he's going to find it. And especially to get into contact with us or have anything to do with us, the girls or family. He always finds a way. So I just thought, 'Oh, Dan.' It was just a moment of, wow we were all together at this special place. Even though he wasn't really there...although he was kind of was there."
Dan says it was a bright spot in a normally hectic place.
"I'm doing great. I'm doing great. Day to day, working 12 to 14 hours a day, seven days a week. So, no break for me anytime soon. But when I get home, my daughters are already planning a trip back to Scotland to show me all the things they saw and places they know I'd love to see."
SSgt. Corman is scheduled to be back to England in July or August. The family is also waiting for their next orders on where they'll be moving next.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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