LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - Thursday was a day a kindergarten student at Quarles Elementary School in Long Beach will never forget. His dad, who has been deployed overseas for nearly a year, returned home and surprised him at school. It was an emotional reunion that put smiles on a lot of faces.
Daxus Arkin enjoyed a pizza party for good behavior, not knowing the moment he had waited 11 months for was about to come.
The five-year-old screamed, "Daddy!" as his father walked on stage to greet him. It was an emotional reunion for both father and son.
"It was exciting; I couldn't wait to see him," said Petty Officer Second Class Steve Arkin.
Arkin is in the Naval Reserve, and has been in Afghanistan for nearly a year with a battalion from the Seabee Base in Gulfport. He flew home Wednesday night. But to keep the surprise for Daxus, "His grandma, his Nanna took him overnight, so we were able to come surprise him at school."
"I'm really excited, I'm happy to see him," said Daxus.
His dad said, "I didn't know what to expect. It was awesome!"
"You can expect a lot of stuff to happen today," Daxus responded. Then he asked Mom, "Why didn't you tell me?"
"I couldn't they wouldn't let me," she replied.
One of his first questions for his father was how long would he be home?
"I'm staying home, buddy. I'm not leaving again, not for a long time, hopefully," explained Steve Arkin.
Father and son immediately started catching up.
"I got a new baseball bat," said Daxus.
"You've been playing catch?" asked his father.
Daxus responded, "My glove doesn't fit me anymore."
Dad replied, "You've got to get a bigger one."
It was the Seabee's first deployment away from his wife and only son.
"It was getting rough on him, me being gone so long. It was one point when he basically said I was never coming home. That's when I couldn't wait to get back."
Mom, Bree Arkin, said, "It was incredibly tough trying to play the role of two parents. It was really hard, but I knew we'd get through it."
Get through it they did; Now they say they'll focus on quality family time.