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Naval Petty Officer surprises daughter during school assembly

A military dad surprised his daughter at an assembly at JohnDrugan School. (CBS4)

Petty Officer 1st Class Gilbert Sandum knows the stress a deployment puts on his family. In his 15 years in the United States Navy, he’s done it six times.

“It’s easy for me. I’m on a ship doing my job,” said Sandum. “But you leave them, you don’t really think as you progress. Then you get older and the kids are like, ‘Hey, where’s dad?’”

For the past nine months Sandum has been deployed in the Arabian Gulf Peninsula onboard the U.S.S. Bunker Hill. That deployment ended Tuesday when he arrived at John Drugan School where his daughter Melissa is in third grade, his daughter Sarahay in eighth.

During an afternoon assembly, Melissa was recognized for being part of a military family. That’s when Gilbert surprised her and began walking toward her. Melissa fell to her knees before getting up and running toward her father with open arms. Both had tears in their eyes.

When asked what Gilbert plans to do next, he said there’s a lot to celebrate.

“My daughter’s birthday party, my son’s birthday party. I got to catch up on Christmas, New Year’s Day, Mother’s Day,” said Sandum. “I got to catch up with last year, so wherever they want, we’re going.”

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