GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Two students in Gautier got the surprise of a lifetime Tuesday. Their dad, Petty Officer Gerald Jackson, just arrived home after being in Africa for nearly six months protecting our county and wanted to surprise them.
The first stop was Gautier High, where 11th grader Mikala thought she was attending an athletic scholarship signing. That's when dad walked in.
"Hey, lady bug," Jackson said to his girl.
Mikala was shocked to see her dad and even shed a few tears.
"Before he left it was my birthday and that was very hard," she remembered. "It was my 16th birthday, which is very hard. I feel a lot better he is home."
Then it was time to head to Martin Bluff Elementary to surprise a very unsuspecting 3rd grader. After the big surprise, Mariusz didn't waste any time drilling his dad with loads of questions, especially about his deployment.
"Did you have fun?" he asked.
The 18 year Navy man said he feels blessed to be home safe and sound. He admits being thousands of miles away in rough conditions is never easy when you are away from family.
"You worry about your kids and how everything is being taken care. This deployment, compared to others, I was able to call them more often than every two to three weeks. It is nothing like actually being able see them, touch them, and hug them," Jackson said.
This military dad said he won't be resting anytime soon. His kids have a list of activities for him to take part in - everything from the going to the movies to playing laser tag. Jackson is part of the Seabee battalion out of Gulfport. He has been deployed at least six times.