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Soldier surprises son with return from duty


DEL CITY, Okla. — Children’s story time took a dramatic turn Monday at Del City Elementary where an army sergeant surprised his five-year-old son. The soldier came home a few days earlier than his son expected.

For the past several months Chad Chudoba has only been able to talk with his children and his wife via Skype, but Monday that all changed.

Rachel Chudoba, Chad’s wife, said, “There were times I wouldn’t hear from him for several days and I just had to wait.”

Sergeant Chudoba has been gone for basically the last year. He has been serving in Afghanistan with the 1245th Transportation unit.

Today he put on a different uniform. He dressed up as a panther.

Chad said, “I’ve never been a panther before, but we’ll make it work.”

His mission was a special surprise for his son Isaac.

Isaac is in Kindergarten at Del City Elementary.

He said, “My daddy’s not home yet. He’s almost home. He’s a soldier.”

What Isaac didn’t know was his dad actually came home Saturday.

All he knew was his class was headed to the library for a special story time.

Chad said, “Hopefully I don’t scare him.”

Isaac ended up right in front, even giving the panther a high five before listening quietly.

But when the story ended so did the charade. A little chaos ensued and Isaac realized the panther was really his dad.

Chad said, “He grew like five inches, at least.”

Though Isaac says he wasn’t fooled.

Isaac said, “I knew because his hand looked like his hand.”

From here Isaac and Chad headed home to spend the afternoon having a little fun.

Isaac knew his dad would be home soon. The family had a jar of Hershey’s Kisses on the end table helping him and his baby sister to track the days.

Isaac said, “It’s got one, two, three in it.

Isaac knew dad was getting close.

And now that dad’s home they are determined to make up for lost time.

Rachel said, “Getting to sit back and watch them interact with him is just wonderful.”

Chad did come home Saturday. He spent the first 48 hours alone with his wife. Isaac does have baby sister, though she slept through most of today’s excitement.