June 11, 2014 at 10:45 AM ET
Danielle Lovato is a military mom with two sets of twins — yes, two! — all under the age of three. She and her husband Phillip, who has been deployed once to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan, are high school sweethearts —best friends who fell in love and have been together ever since.
Phillip's desire to serve his country means he's had to sacrifice spending time with his wife and children. In fact, he had never even met his youngest set of twins until Wednesday!
So it was an extra special moment on TODAY when Phillip got to hold his twins for the first time, in a tearful reunion filled with hugs and smiles.
"It's amazing," an emotional Phillip said, as he hugged 8-month-old babies Derek and Ariana for the first time, as well as 2-year-old twins Luke and Alysea.
And the surprises kept coming — not only was he reunited with his wife and children, but with his parents as well. "It's been a long time," he said.
Phillip joined the military in 2007, when he enlisted in the army. After graduating from basic training he proposed to Danielle, and the two were married four short months later on July 5, 2008.
In 2009, Phillip was sent to Iraq, where he served for 12 months.
After his homecoming, the couple knew they wanted to start a family. They welcomed twins Luke and Alysea on August 17, 2011.
The family was only together for three months when Phillip received orders to deploy for another year to Afghanistan. He was able to come home for two weeks to celebrate Luke and Alysea's first birthday.
And in February 2013, Danielle and Phillip learned they were expecting their second set of twins!
The news was bittersweet for the family: Phillip left for Afghanistan on September 19, 2013, and exactly one week later, Derek and Ariana were born.
The next few months were hectic, as Phillip did his best to comfort Danielle from afar, and help her to keep going, along with the support she got from her mom and mother-in-law.
They don't know what their future holds, but for now, the family is happy to be back together. And Phillip is filled with gratitude for his wife, who has kept everything together in his absence.
"She's amazing," he said.