Military dad surprises daughter, wife at school - - The News for South Mississippi

Military dad surprises daughter, wife at school

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A Gulfport Seabee who has been on deployment since Labor Day came home a month early. He wanted to make the homecoming extra special for his wife and teenage daughter. So on Thursday, he showed up at West Harrison High School to carry out a double surprise.

"I'm excited! I can't wait to see my wife and daughter. It's been a long time," said Navy Chief Joseph Mathers.

Mathers wasn't supposed to be home. His family thought he was still in Afghanistan, finishing up a six-month deployment.

"I came back early just for some formal training, so the battalion sent me home about a month early," said Joseph Mathers. 

The Gulfport Seabee planned a secret mission to surprise his 14-year-old daughter at West Harrison High School and his wife, who is a student teacher at the school. His first stop was Alexis Mathers's class. He snuck up on the unsuspecting freshman as she was sitting at her desk.  She immediately stood up and hugged her dad.

"Miss you baby girl," Mathers told his daughter.

"I definitely went in shock. I did not know what to think. I was trying to figure out if I was still sleeping, because I've not seen him in years it seems," said Alexis Mathers.

Then, it was off to surprise his wife. Tina Mathers had no idea who was about to walk through the door. She covered her face the moment Joseph Mathers walked in with a bouquet of flowers.

Five months of separation and heartache seemed to melt away, replaced by tears of joy and relief.

"You're so sneaky," said Tina Mathers, as she hugged and kissed her husband.

"I miss you baby," Joseph Mathers told her.

"I'm just in shock. Happiest day of my life besides the wedding," said Tina Mathers.  "It's like a dream come true and just emotionally in disbelief."

The family can now look forward to some extra time together and celebrations like Valentine's Day.

"I'm shaking," said Tina Mathers as they prepared to leave.

"I got to show my wife how much I appreciate her and how much I missed her. She doesn't have to do it alone anymore," said Joseph Mathers. "I like to make the family happy and I can see a smile there, which warms my heart. It's just good to be home."

"If you haven't been through something like 19-years of deployments, nobody really understands," said Tina Mathers. "It's like part of you is missing. Now I feel whole again, so just happy."

Chief Mathers says the family will spend as much time together as possible before he has to leave for North Carolina next month for training.

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