LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville native Bryan Cox was honored in 2003 for his service in the Marines and he got to throw out the first pitch at a Riverbats game in 2010, but his 20 years of service has finally come to an end. 

Cox is set to retire Feb. 28 and has saved up enough vacation to come home early -- but he didn't let his mother know about that part.

Bryan's mother turned 68 on Tuesday and over the past two months he kept his cross country road trip back from San Diego a secret from her. 

His girlfriend set up a birthday dinner for his mother at her favorite restaurant, Cattleman's Roadhouse. The family gathered and Cox's girlfriend gave his mother an oversize birthday card (because she struggles to see, he says).

The front of the card simply said "Happy Birthday," but the inside said "I'm here to stay."

That's when Cox, who had been waiting quietly behind her as she opened her card, tapped her on the shoulder and gave her a big hug. 

She introduced Bryan to the rest of the restaurant and sat down to have a family meal. 

Copyright 2016 WDRB News. All rights reserved.