Emotional Reunion as Soldier Surprises Kids at School - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Emotional Reunion as Soldier Surprises Kids at School

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GEORGETOWN, De. - As the saying goes, there is no place like home for the holidays. And for one Delmarva soldier, his surprise return brought joy to the entire family. In Georgetown, three children will be able to spend Christmas with their father, after he returns from a war zone. Richard Whealton returned to Delmarva on Wednesday, but kept it secret from his three kids.

Then Thursday morning, along with collaboration from the school, he made a surprise visit to the school. Just minutes before, Whealton described his emotions.

"I feel more nervous than I did overseas," he said.

Finally the moment came, and Whealton entered the room. Immediately, his three children broke into tears and ran towards their father. 

"I didn't know what to think," said 6th grader John Whealton with tears in his eyes. "But I missed him so much, and I'm glad he's here today."

His two daughters Kiara and Valencia agreed. 

"I'm trying not to ball right now," Kiara said. "But I was just really surprised because he said he wasn't coming back until the Spring. So I was waiting for that day."

Valencia, the 7th grader recalled a conversation with her mother before her dad returned.

"I asked my mom what she wanted for Christmas," she said. "And she said she wanted my dad home. And now I'm just really glad that it happened."

Whealton served in Afghanistan for nine months, and said the hardest part was missing key moments in his children's lives. He lamented missing his son's first goal, and his daughter's winning of a soccer championship. Now after returning, he said he won't miss another moment.

"They're my world," he said. "And that's why I put the uniform on and do what I do. Because someday I hope they won't have to when they get older."

Whealton signed his kids out for the day, and the family of five said they were looking forward to being together for the holidays. The emotions didn't stop at the exit of the building. The family then drove to Sussex Tech, where they surprised his oldest daughter as well. 

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