After being deployed in the military for nine months, a Tennessee dad waited an extra day to see his children, just so he could surprise his six year old daughter at her school.
The family members of the little girl, Zoey, call her a miracle child. When she was just five days old, she had open heart surgery and survived. She’s now a kindergarten student at Germantown Elementary school.
Army Specialist James Rhodes was deployed in Poland in last July, and has been there ever since.
“I’ve been in eastern Europe deterring Russian threats,” Rhodes said. “I decided to join the Army to benefit my family. I missed my family very much. Very much. I’m glad to be back home.”
Zoey’s grandmother says she’s very glad to have Rhodes back in the United States now.
“My daughter works a full-time job with the two babies, and they need their dad,” Stephanie Hankins, Rhodes’ wife’s mother said. “But I know he went off to the service to protect us, so it was good. But I think now they need their father.”
Rhodes arrived home on Thursday night, but he didn’t wake up the kids. He decided to wait until Friday to tell them he’s home.
“I just wanted to surprise her,” Rhodes said. “Let her know I’m home.”
When Zoey was in class on Friday working on lessons with her teacher, her dad, who she hadn’t seen in almost a year, walked into the classroom.
To surprise his daughter, Rhodes snuck up behind her while she was working on the lessons.
It took Zoey a second after Rhodes appeared behind her to recognize him. Then, her big smile showed and she hugged her dad tight.
“I’m so excited, you just don’t know!” Hankins said. “I left my job to come up here to see both of them. I haven’t seen him either because he just got home last night, so I’m so excited. I’m so excited.”
On Friday, Zoey got to leave school early with her father and mother.
“We’re going to go get pancakes and going to Chuck E. Cheese’s!” her dad said.
Now, they got to spend Mother’s Day weekend together as a family once again for the first time in almost a year.