SPANISH FORT, Ala. (WKRG) – A parade Thursday afternoon turned into a surprise reunion in the parking lot of Spanish Fort Elementary School — with hundreds of students lining the parking lot chanting “USA, USA!”.
“He says he thinks he knows a couple of our students,” said the school’s principal over a loudspeaker as a special guest rode through the parking lot on the back of a golf cart.
Lt. Richard Sweeney of the U.S. Navy is back from deployment, surprising his two daughters Clarissa and Scarlett.
“It never gets easier, but it never gets any more special seeing them for the first time when you get back,” Lt. Sweeney said Thursday.
Since April he’s been deployed to the East China Sea and the South China Sea.
“I’ve been in the Navy for about 11 years. My current unit is VP-45 out in Jacksonville, Fla.,” he said.
“My brain just went like, ‘Boom.’ I don’t know what to think,” said Clarissa, moments after her dad greeted her with a big hug.
Clarissa and Scarlett weren’t expecting their dad back home this week. The tearful reunion is something they’ll never forget.
“I’m happy that he does it, but when he goes on deployment it makes me really sad,” Clarissa said.
Luckily, dad will be home for a while with no new leave date on the calendar. Lt. Sweeney is looking forward to some much-needed quality time with family.
“Knowing that the girls are here in such a loving family at school really is incredible,” he said.