MANCHESTER - An Ocean County police department helped a New Jersey Army Reserve soldier surprise his children as a way of thanking his family for helping to protect their community.

Sgt. Major Harrington Henry surprised each of his three children at their schools with virtually the entire Manchester Police Department in tow and cheering them on.

Manchester Police Lt. James Sharkey says that the department has a special bond with the Henry family.  While Sgt. Major Henry was fighting for peace in Iraq, his wife Kristy was helping the officers fight for peace in their neighborhood.

"We had one house in that neighborhood, I guess we'll call it a drug house, and there had been a couple drive-by shootings on that house and Sgt. Major [Henry’s] family lives right next door,” says Lt. Sharkey.

The Henry family began sleeping on the floor downstairs to protect themselves from gunfire. Kristy Henry, who is an Army veteran herself, began rallying her neighbors and started a neighborhood watch program to call in tips.

The program helped Manchester police make several arrests.

“Even though her spouse is across the ocean in another country, she did what she had to do to keep her family safe here,” says. Lt. Sharkey.

Thanks to the efforts led by his wife, Sgt. Major Henry says that he's come home to a better, cleaner neighborhood.

“I never thought she would have done this on her own.  I think what pushed her over the edge was the shooting next door,” he says.

The Henrys tell News 12 New Jersey that a wonderful family has since moved into the once-troubled house next door. The neighborhood watch group remains active and has a meeting scheduled in a few days.