LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - By Jena Johnson - email
LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A Lufkin Middle School student, thinking she was participating in a Cinco de Mayo party, was instead surprised by a visit from her father, who had been stationed for the past year in Iraq.
Corey Austin, a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army, walked into Gina Bourlon's sixth-grade math class around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.
"We have a guest all the way from Mexico!" Principal Alex Alexander said. "Just kidding! He's from Iraq."
"That's my dad!" Alexandria Austin said when she saw her father.
Alexandria sat at her desk in shock for a few moments before her father walked to her and they embraced.
Corey Austin then told the class about his experience in Iraq.
He said he enjoys giving her daughter surprises.
"I hardly ever get to see her," he said. "I hardly spend anytime here so when I do see here I like to shock her, surprise her, catch her of guard so she'll be really happy to see me."
He says he misses watching his little girl grow up.
"She's sprouted since the last time I saw her," Corey Austin said. "She's definitely changed."
Now that he's home, she doesn't want to let him go.
"It's like the greatest surprise ever, the best gift ever to know that your dad actually cares, that he's here and wants to see you," she said. "I was actually the first person he came to see when he got down here so I feel special."
It's been a tough year, Alexandria and her dad are very close. She tells me when she worries about him, she prays.
"I prayed a lot make sure he was all right," she said. "I say, I usually say God, please keep my dad in your thoughts, please take care of him, make sure he's alright. It's kind of hard because it's crazy not to see your dad."
But today, they're reunited, a pray answered for them both.