Lieutenant Colonel Jean-Paul Plamondon, a U.S. Army Reservist, hadn’t seen his daughter, Natalie, in nearly a year. That’s because he deployed to Kuwait last February. But shortly after the new year began, his tour of duty ended, and he was able to come home to his family. Lt. Col. Plamondon couldn’t wait to see his family again, and they couldn’t wait to see him, either. But just to make the homecoming a little more special, he purposefully neglected to tell his daughter that he would be home.
Natalie, a 7-year-old elementary student, was completely unaware that her dad was already home. The rest of the family knew, but Plamondon made sure everyone kept it a secret so that he could surprise his daughter.
The school was having a guest reader come in that day, and to Natalie’s surprise, the guest reader was her mom, Valerie. The book that she was going to read to the school was Hero Dad by Melinda Hardin, which tells the story of a child whose father is a soldier — making him a very special kind of super hero. Natalie joined her mother on stage as the book was read. When they finished, another surprise guest stepped out from the back of the auditorium.
The time spent apart was hard on Lt. Col. Plamondon. “I missed her birthday, every special holiday — Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, all of her ballet recitals, everything like that,” he told the local news. “Even though I saw pictures, it still wasn’t the same”
Military service members sacrifice so much for their country, including putting their lives at stake to protect our freedom, but one of the biggest sacrifices they make is the time spent away from family and loved ones while they are away on deployment or training. Months or even years can be missed, which is especially hard on military families.
That’s what makes homecomings like this one so special and so amazing to watch!
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The surprise guest, of course, was Natalie’s father, whom she hadn’t seen in nearly a full year! As soon as she saw him, she yelled out “Daddy!” and immediately ran into his arms. She couldn’t help but to break down in tears of joy at seeing her dad finally, and the rest of the people in the room were getting choked up by the emotions, as well.
Natalie said she already has lots of plans for her and her hero dad to do together, and thankfully they have lots of time to do them all since Lt. Col. Plamondon can’t be deployed again for another two years.
Welcome home, Soldier!
Watch the amazing homecoming surprise in this video!
Jacob H. is an award-winning journalist and photojournalist who currently resides is West Michigan with his wife. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys writing, photography, mountain climbing, and camping.