Growing up in the military is a tough experience for a child. Personally, my father was in the Navy throughout my entire life and most of my memories of him are when he was away.
This type of separation is a sad feeling for any kid, but 7-year-old Natalie Plamondon of Clifton Park, New York, has probably felt this and so much more.
Her dad had been away in Kuwait since February 2017.
He, unfortunately, has missed out on many celebratory moments throughout the year, including her birthday.
“Even though I saw pictures, it still wasn’t the same,” said army reservist, Lieutenant Colonel Jean-Paul Plamondon.
Natalie was 6 when her dad left on deployment. Now scheduled to return home, Jean-Paul decided to come back three weeks earlier on Tuesday, Jan. 9.
At the time of his return, Natalie was attending a morning program at her school, Okte Elementary.
Jean-Paul was hoping to pull off the ultimate surprise, and that he did.
Valerie, Natalie’s mom, was invited as the reader of the day. With her daughter’s help, she read a military-inspired story called “Hero Dad.”
As the two ended the story, Jean-Paul appeared from the back of the auditorium. Seeing this big reveal sent Natalie running into her father’s arms.
Emotions filled the room as the two reunite in tears of happiness.
According to Natalie, her dad’s homecoming was “better than anything in the world.”
Keeping the surprise a secret was no easy task, though. Natalie is known to pick up on every little thing, but everyone did a good job keeping it under wraps.
Good thing Jean-Paul will have another two years until his next deployment. Natalie is already planning to make up for all the lost time.
As for other kids like herself who may be dealing with a deployed parent, Natalie implied that she had faith while waiting for his return.
She said, “Stay strong and don’t worry … They will be safe.”
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