David Peterson, assistant principal at Costa Mesa High School, walked into Paul Grady's literature class and called Trevor Davis to the door Tuesday afternoon.
The 16-year-old sophomore didn't know what was going on until his sister, U.S. Army Pvt. 2 Tyler Davis, donning her battle dress uniform, stepped through the doorway, grabbed him and gave him a hug.
Tyler Davis, 19, had arrived in Costa Mesa that day after graduating from her training at Fort Lee, in Virginia. She has a few weeks off before heading to Fort Carson, in Colorado, for more training. She figured it would be fun to surprise her brother as soon as she came home.
"I would talk to Tyler on the phone outside on the street," her mother, Bernadette Davis, said in explaining the lengths she went to to hide the secret from Trevor.
The sophomore at Mesa was still in shock after hugging his sister for a few minutes.
"I thought she was coming home in a couple more days. That's all I was told," he said.
Tyler Davis had communicated often with her brother about what she was doing at Fort Lee.
"I tell him all the stuff that guys want to know, about all the weapons that I've shot and all the cars that I've drove," she said about their Skype conversations
Just a year ago, Tyler was the varsity cheer captain. After graduating, she traded her cheer outfit for a set of Army BDUs.
She wanted a more cost-effective way of earning a degree and decided that joining the Army would help her accomplish that.
"I wanted to get to my goal the fastest way possible and without me having to pay loans for years and years," Davis said. "The Army seemed to be the best bet because I want to be a registered nurse once I get out. So the Army can help me get my bachelor's degree, and I've always wanted to do something above the norm."
Davis trained as a wheeled vehicle mechanic, with specialty training in vehicle recovery — learning how to pull armored vehicles out of mud, flip them over and cut doors off to retrieve people who are trapped.
She and 10 other women are the first female group to join their company, which also has 500 men, she said.
Davis wants to set a good example for her brother, who is considering joining the Army when he graduates in 2015.
"She takes care of him," Bernadett Davis said. "She puts money in his bank account and makes sure that he's being taken care of."