Pa. solider surprises daughter at school

LEVITTOWN, Pa. - November 4, 2011

There wasn't a dry eye in the auditorium at Manor Elementary School, as a soldier and his second grade daughter were reunited.

Wiping away tears, second grader Seana could barely loosen her grip from the bear hug she got from dad, Technical Sergeant Sean Schaefer, who arrived home today from his first tour with the US Air Force in Bagram Afghanistan.

"I think I was surprised," Seana told Action News.

Surprised because Sergeant Schaefer, who was deployed on april 27th - Seana's seventh birthday - wasn't supposed to return until NEXT Friday. At least that's what he and mom Crystal told Seana and her brother, Tyler.

"It's just amazing we did the same thing with Tyler this morning and Crystal at the airport. It's great coming home," said Schaefer.

Tyler, a seventh grader at Charles Bain Middle School, has a unique way of describing HIS moment in gym class.

"It was good. It was weird," he told us.

Mom Crystal cooked up the plan.

"It was hard because Ii really wanted to tell them the truth," she said. "But I am really glad to able to do this."

Seana's teacher, Kristin Cimochoski, helped plan a homecoming even more special than the Schaefers could have ever dreamed.

"It took a lot of people," said Kristin. "It took a village to get this together."

Students from Seana's second grade class waved flags and filled her vase with flowers.

"I was crying of course, but THEY were crying, the kids," said Kristin. "What a special surprise for him."

Meantime, Dad had a surprise of his own for Principal Christopher Becker: a flag he carried in Afghanistan for Manor Elementary School.

The family says the first order of business is to spend some time together, catch up on some golfing, and of course enjoy a family Thanksgiving with everyone at the table!

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