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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Together Again: After Yearlong Deployment, Father of Three Makes Stunning Surprise

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It’s never easy to leave your family and head across the world to serve your country, but the last year has been especially difficult for one military family from Killeen, Texas.

Army Staff Sgt. Andy Patterson headed out for his third deployment in 2020 after just three months home from his prior deployment in South Korea, and he spent the following year in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

His wife, Andrea, and their three kids had their own work cut out for them as the pandemic raged on and an unprecedented winter storm hit Texas.

But the father and husband completed his year and was able to head home. To celebrate, Patterson decided to make an event out of it, surprising each of his kids individually at school.

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“The only word that could come to mind was ‘finally,'” he told KCEN-TV.

“Tissue Alert!” Killeen Independent School District warned on its post from Thursday. “Staff Sgt. Andy Patterson and his wife Andrea surprised their three children in a trio of individual reunions in the hallways at Brookhaven Elementary School.

“Following a pair of deployments with a brief break between, the pair wanted to make this return special. It was!”

“For me, it meant a lot,” Patterson later told Killeen ISD. “I could tell by their reactions it meant a lot to them.”

“We decided we really wanted them to have individual homecomings,” mom Andrea Patterson added. “I just told them we would see Daddy really soon.”

While this wasn’t Patterson’s first deployment, he said the familiar process doesn’t make anything easier.

“If anything it gets harder watching your children grow up and knowing that you’re missing out on a majority of their life when you’re gone during that time period,” he said.

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His wife is happy to have him back, too — understanding their duty but acknowledging the difficulty of that call.

“It feels good because they need their dad, you know, and, you know, as a military family we know the sacrifices we have to make as a whole but doesn’t change the fact that we’re human and we just want to be together too,” she said.

The family plans on just enjoying time together for a while, including doing lots of one of the kids’ favorite activities: reading.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking