Sailor surprises daughter at school after 10 months apart

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SULLIVAN, Ind. (WTWO/WAW) — Throughout his 20 years of service with the United States Navy, Chief Petty Officer Andrew Yoakum has been through many deployments. But, the most recent one proved to be especially hard for his family back home.

Yoakum was deployed to the Middle East on April 1, 2019.

“The deployment was supposed to be his last before retiring, and was scheduled to return Oct. 1, 2019,” his wife, Ashton, said. “However, tension with Iran and some mishaps extended these sailors from returning as scheduled.”

Ashton said she has been through physical, mental and emotional stress over the past year, but her children took it especially hard.

“They didn’t understand why their daddy couldn’t be home for the holidays or why they couldn’t pick up the phone and call him,” she said. “With that said, we held our heads high, prayed and pushed through.”

So, when the Yoakums received word that Andrew would be coming home, Ashton wanted to make it special for her children. With the help of Sullivan Elementary School, Andrew was able to surprise their daughter Brooklyn outside her first grade classroom.

When Andrew arrived Tuesday, he was nervous to see his little girl.

“I’m very nervous. I’m more nervous to meet my daughter than I was my wife,” he laughed. “I’m going to grab her up. That’s what I’m going to do. I just hope she’s happy because I’m ecstatic to see her.”

The day happened to fall on the 101st day of school. Sullivan Elementary celebrated by having students dress up as Dalmatians. When students began lining up in the hallway, Brooklyn thought it was part of the celebration. But, when she went to join her classmates, her dad was there to greet her.

“Daddy!!” she exclaimed before running into his arms.

Once she saw her dad, there was no way Brooklyn was going to finish out the day at school. She gathered her things and left with her parents to help surprise her brother Benjamin at daycare.

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