Army chief surprises tearful, but joyous daughter at school after six-month deployment

A military dad who has ended his most recent deployment gave his daughter the biggest surprise at her school, and it brought her to tears of joy


A normal day at school for fourth-grader Aaliyah Benjamin turned to near tears of joy on Friday as she was surprised by her father who returned home after a six-month deployment overseas.

U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Andrew Benjamin surprised his daughter at Ola Elementary in Henry County, Ga., which led her to spring into her father’s arms seen in a viral video.

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“It was a hug because I almost cried,” Aaliyah said to Atlanta station WSB. “He came to my school, and I haven’t seen him in a long time.”

Aaliyah said how much she missed her father remembered nights she spent in tears while she thought of him.

“When I’m alone with my mom, and I really want my dad beside me … I cry myself to sleep those nights,” she said. “I still think about him when I’m sleeping, and then when I wake up, I still think about him at school, and that’s how I don’t concentrate.”

The surprise wasn’t only for Aaliyah, but her classmates and even instructors. On that day, officials for the Herny County school district summoned two fourth grade classes and their teachers to meet in the library for a mystery reader who turned out to be Aaliyah’s father.

Benjamin will soon retire from the armed services, making this the last reunion trip with his family.

“Thank you, Chief Benjamin, for your service to our country during your career, and thank you for allowing us to make your final homecoming extra special!” Henry County Schools shared on social media.

“It’s a joy and a pleasure to actually be here and actually be in person and actually hold my daughter, hold my wife (and) see my family,” Benjamin said of the reunion.

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