Soldier surprises son during school assembly

WICHITA, Kansas – It’s hard to keep such a big secret from so many little ears, especially fourth grader, Cade O’Brien.

“We found out that Mr. O’Brien would be returning and wanted to surprise Cade so we had a group of people, including his teachers, start planning this assembly, and decided to tie it into Earth Day,” said Tammy Alexander, Peterson Elementary Principal.

While the students learn about recycling, waiting in the hall is a lesson in patience.

“Can’t wait to see his reaction.”

Cade’s father just returned from a 9-month deployment in Afghanistan, meeting his infant son for the first time.

“You really can’t put it into words,” said Staff Sergeant Derek O’Brien. “You just count down the days until you can come home and be with them again.”

Finally, it’s time for the big reunion. Hidden behind a recycling dumpster, Cade’s father sneaks into the assembly.

His son’s reaction is immediate.

“Hi buddy. Missed you.”

Photos: Soldier’s return home brings tears

As Cade clings to his dad, many in the crowd get choked up, knowing what this means to him.

But now, the family talks of camping, fishing, spending time together starting right now.

Cade’s father works on a helicopter crew, but says he shouldn’t be deployed again for at least a year. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language, racial slurs or consistent name calling will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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