A 22-year-old U.S. Army soldier pulled off an idea he had been hatching for years by surprising his mother at work after a two-year deployment.
U.S. Army Spc. Shakir Aquil joined the military right out of high school. After completing basic training in Oklahoma, Aquil continued training in Virginia and was then deployed to South Korea.
Inspired by military reunion videos he had watched while still in high school, Aquil knew that one day, he wanted to be the one in the video, surprising his own family.
“I’ve always wanted to do it, even since high school when I was looking into going into the Army and always watched the coming-home videos,” Aquil told ABC’s Good Morning America.
“I’ve been planning this for years.”
Aquil got his chance last week, when he surprised his mother, school resource officer L.J. Williamson, while she was at work.
Williamson, a retired Atlanta police officer who now works at D.M. Therrell High School in Atlanta, Georgia, thought she was being honored at a pep rally for work she had done with vulnerable children over Christmas.
Surprise! @APSTherrell Safety and Security Officer LaShandria Williamson has just received the suprise of her life!
Her son, U.S. Army Sgt. Shakir Aquil is home from Suwon, South Korea after a two-year deployment! pic.twitter.com/sNuwvmV9fR
— ATL Public Schools (@apsupdate) January 17, 2020
While the student body applauded Williamson for her ongoing work in the Atlanta community, a brief video of her son in his Army fatigues was displayed on a massive gymnasium screen.
In the video, Aquil thanked his mother for all her hard work. He was proud of her, he said, and wished he could be there in person.
Williamson became emotional while watching the video, not knowing that her son was about to make a grand entrance in person.
The student body erupted with cheers and applause as Aquil casually jogged into the gym behind the boys’ basketball team, a moment he had been waiting for since he left for South Korea.
When Williamson saw her son, she rushed into his arms for an emotional, long-awaited embrace.
“I don’t like showing emotion in front of people, and I try my best not to,” Williamson told GMA. “As a police officer you’re expected to be stern, and I thought, ‘Why did he do this in front of all these people?'”
“I’m so happy,” she said. “I’m still floating.”
Aquil has some time off until February, which he said he plans to spend alongside his family doing things they love like dancing, singing, cooking and just being together.
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