Father Returns Home From Afghanistan, Surprises Kids at School

               It was an emotional homecoming for a father, his 3-year-old boy, and 5-year-old girl. He surprised them at school after serving in Afghanistan for three months. He wasn't supposed to be coming home until Wednesday, and their mother had to tell a little white lie not to spoil the surprise. It was a lie, she says was worth it when she saw the look on her kids faces when their dad walked onto their school playground two days earlier than expected.   

               It was just another day at the Bright Start Academy for five-year-old Kennedy Engleke and her three-year-old brother Andrew, or so they thought. Their dad had just returned home from Afghanistan and was on his way to see them.

             “It's a whirlwind, just good to be home just glad to see my kids and my family and be home before Christmas, ” said Phil Engleke.

              Jill and Phil Engleke both serve in the Rhode Island Air National Guard. Jill is a commanders assistant in the 143rd Airlift Wing, and Phil, also in the 143rd Airlift Wing, is a Technical Sargeant.

              Engleke says, “I'm going to go surprise my kids, I want to see the look on their faces too, their probably going to be pretty excited.”

               Engleke's best friend, Shannon Roumelis, planned the whole thing. First, the kids would chant “I'm proud to be an American” while opening a present filled with American flags. As the kids were caught up in the excitement, their dad appears.  

                Roumelis says this deployment was harder than usual on the family. Jill had just found out she was pregnant with their third child when he left. Which is why she wanted his return to be extra special.

               “We just love them so much so we just wanted to highlight their family and how much they do for us how much they do for the country and you know they deserve it,” says Roumelis. 

                Engleke was one of 130 airmen and women in Afghanistan. Members had been returning home in shifts since the 20th, his return was the last. He's not expected to be deployed again until 2013.