Africa Studio/ShutterstockDad meets baby daughter for the first time
It’s easy to get emotional when hearing about the nice things people have done to say thank-you to veterans. But the most emotional moments are when veterans return to the families who love and support them. During Ohio National Guardsman, Sgt. Scott Cartwright’s two-and-a-half-month deployment in Kuwait, his wife Elizabeth gave birth. While, naturally, he was upset about not being there for the birth, he was also understandably nervous for another reason: meeting his new daughter for the first time as a four-month-old. The couple had previously adopted a 2-year-old girl, Nora, and Cartwright was worried about not being able to love someone as much as he already loved his older daughter. “But when I got to hold [Jacqueline] for the first time, and she and her mother have the exact same eyes, I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh. I see now,'” he told ABC News. It is truly a memory he and his family will never, ever forget.
Air Force dad disguises himself as the catcher in a baseball game to surprise his kids
Upon returning from his six-month deployment in Asia, U.S. Air Forceman Lance Daigle had a fun surprise in store for his baseball-loving kids. Just before a minor league Mudcats Baseball game, his children received the news that they’d won VIP tickets to throw the first pitch. When the two got up to the mound and tossed the ball towards the catcher, they had no idea who had really just received the ball. When the catcher took off his mask, they realized it was their dad who had just returned from his deployment. Could it get any sweeter?
Kids’ school plans the surprise reunion of the century
Every time a child’s parent is away on deployment, one Florida elementary school ties a yellow ribbon around a tree with the parent’s name on it until he or she has returned home. For the two Massard children, it seemed like the yellow ribbon for their dad, Chief Robert Massard of the U.S. Navy, was never coming down. One unsuspecting day, the school coordinated with Massard to surprise the kids during school in a reunion that had the sailor himself in tears. Here’s how six small towns honor their veterans.
Baby boy who just got glasses sees military dad clearly for the first time
Reagan, a 9-month-old who suffered meningitis and spent his first few weeks of life in the intensive care unit was left with less than adequate vision. Thankfully, by the time his father returned from a two-month deployment in Antarctica, his doctor had prescribed him a pair of glasses. His mother Amanda and his father, Air Force Capt. Brandon Caldwell, were both worried that little Reagan wouldn’t recognize his dad now that he could see clearly, but the two couldn’t have been more wrong—and pleasantly surprised. While singing along to “pat-a-cake,” the father and son had the most blissful reunion and Reagan most definitely knew whose arms he was wrapped up in. Don’t miss this heartwarming story about a veteran who paints fallen soldiers.
Dad plans sweet surprise for his Air Force wife and four children
Eight months is a long time to be away from a parent—especially for two little girls and two little boys to be apart from their mother. So Robert Burrs was determined to make the reunion between his four children and their mom, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Bethany Anderson-Burrs, as spectacular and memorable as possible. The moment his wife stepped off the plane from her deployment in Qatar, he told her she had somewhere to be. That somewhere was his children’s school where an entire classroom of third-graders was waiting to see what they thought was a special appearance from a world-renowned artist. Instead, in walked Anderson-Burrs. She was immediately attacked with hugs and kisses from her children in a moment that she says reminded her why she serves. Here are simple but powerful ways to give back to our veterans.
Former foreign news correspondent reunites with life-long friend after 76 years
Not all reunions are family reunions—some are with friends who have become family over the years. Such was the case with Carl Warner and Abby Deutsch who met as teens at Miami Beach High School. Life took the two in completely opposite directions. Warner went on to join the war effort, serving in the Marines in the Pacific and as a foreign news correspondent in Venezuela. He survived multiple injuries and was even incorrectly reported dead more than once by Walter Cronkite. All the while, he and Deutsch stayed in contact, writing letters and exchanging phone calls, but the two hadn’t seen each other in person for 76 years until Brookdale Senior Living teamed up with Wish of a Lifetime to reunite the lifelong friends who couldn’t keep their hands off each other! Check out this other heartwarming reunion story, 77 years in the making.
Soldier reunites with her dog after three months of basic training
Army Pvt. Hannah Foraker, who had never been away from her 3-year-old golden retriever, Buddy, had to say goodbye for three full months to attend basic training. Not only was it a sad goodbye, but Foraker was extra concerned because Buddy suffers from arthritis and is also borderline deaf. To make the distance more manageable, the two buddies Skyped often, which did not stave off Buddy’s missing her. When Foraker finally returned, Buddy did a double-take and wept in excitement at his owner’s feet in one of the most heartwarming reunions between a pet and military member we’ve seen to date. (And pretty clear evidence that owning a dog has major health benefits.)
Father pilots plane carrying his soldier son upon his return from deployment
First Lt. Mario Lopes was scheduled to return from his deployment in Kuwait on April 14, the same day on which his father, Captain Mario Lopes, a Washington D.C.-based pilot was offered an opportunity to pilot a military flight to Norfolk, Virginia. Coincidence? Captain Lopes thought not. While he wasn’t sure whether or not his military son would be on board, it was a chance he was willing to take, and, sure enough, the two were on the same plane. On the day of the flight, the cabin crew was looped into Lopes’ plan to surprise his son and asked to distract him with a bag of his favorite cookies. Meanwhile, Lopes came up behind and asked, “First Lieutenant Lopes, what are you doing on my aircraft?” The sweet reunion was captured on video in a moment the father-son duo will never forget. These veteran-related organizations are worthy of your time and energy.
Army engineer plots with cops to pull over his mom and surprise her with his return
When Darlene MacAllister was pulled over by police in her hometown of Hanson, Mass., and asked to get out of the car, her heart sank. The last thing she thought was that it had something to do with her son who was stationed as an Army engineer in Fort Carson, CO. But, sure enough, in a reunion he had been plotting for several weeks, the police were part of the surprise. Once she was out of her car, her son, PV2 Alan MacAllister, came up behind her. “It definitely caught me off guard,” she told Boston’s WCVB. “I had just hung up the phone with him saying he wasn’t going to be home because his flight was canceled.”
Marine sergeant son surprises his teacher mom mid-class
Storytime in Paula Rigg’s third-grade class is usually full of words and songs, but one Thursday afternoon session would be wildly different than the rest. While she was singing to her students, her son, Sgt. Paul Riggs, walked in and surprised his mom after he’d been deployed in Japan for three years. The two hadn’t seen each other face-to-face in nearly two years. Riggs burst into tears and kept repeating the two words, “my hero.” How sweet!? Don’t miss the things American soldiers wish you knew.