Charlotte, NC - A little girl in North Carolina got a big surprise at school. Her dad had been overseas in Afghanistan for the past eight months.
"A lot of Skype. A lot of, you know, watching her grow up in pictures," says Capt. Eric Perkins of the U.S. Army.
That's been the relationship Army Captain Eric Perkins has had with his only child, 5-year-old Ellie, for eight months. He's been in Afghanistan since last May with the 87th Airborne and he's missed a lot.
"Seeing her in a Halloween costume, opening Christmas presents, in a play at school as a polar bear," says Perkins.
But he's not missing anymore. Perkins decided to surprise Ellie at Grier Academy in her kindergarten class. Only the teachers and staff knew he was coming. He was nervous.
"I don't know if she's just going to sit there and freeze or if she's going to sprint and tackle me," says Perkins.
As the class settled down for story time, television cameras were aimed at the door. Ellie was speechless for a long time, and both their eyes filled with tears. The teachers watching couldn't hold back their tears. While the other students listened to story time, Ellie sat on her father's lap and played with his thumb.
The simple and familiar things, renewing a lasting bond. When Perkins was ready to take her home, the other kindergartners welcomed them in the hallway. He got emotional again, his daughter noticed.
Ellie got more surprised than she ever dreamed of. She got to go home early from her school with her daddy and had no homework.
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