Military dad in Rock Spring surprises children after 8 months away
Just ahead of the Month of the Military Child, one first grader at Woodstation Elementary and his younger sister were in for a big surprise on Wednesday.
It was a heartwarming moment for 7-year-old Eli Harrison and his 3-year-old sister, Selah. It had been eight months since the last time they saw their father, Sgt. Dionne Harrison, who was stationed in South Korea.
"The date he was coming home kept changing. He was supposed to come home around Christmas and then he was supposed to come home in February and that didn't work out. So it started off we had a date and the kids just kept getting disappointed. So I said, you know it's going to be a surprise," Eli's mom, Lindey Harrison, told Channel 3.
It was a surprise the entire school was in on, cleverly disguised as a guest reading to Eli's class by his grandmother, a former teacher there.
"It's a story about a little boy whose dad was a soldier," Verna Bible told students.
Unknown to both Eli and his classmates, it was actually he and his father at the center of this story.
"When Eli gets up to blow his kiss to his dad, which he thinks is thousands and thousands of miles away, he's actually only going to be a few feet away," Principal Ernie Ellis explained.
His dad told Channel 3 the reunion with his family was bittersweet.
"Me being here starts the clock for when I have to go back. I know I have to leave," Sgt. Harrison said.
But he says the love and support from family members and school staff make leaving each time a little easier.
"Being away is hard, but to know that you have a good support system and to know that other people are there for your family and trying make them fit in, it means the world," he said.
Sgt. Harrison said he'll be home for a few weeks and is looking forward to spending that time with his family. He was also welcomed home on Wednesday with dozens of letters from students at Woodstation Elementary thanking him for his service and American flag-inspired art created by students.