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A reunion 9 months in the making took place Thursday when Army Specialist Johnnie Duce came home from deployment to Kuwait and surprised his daughter at school.
Kindergartners at Cypress Trials Elementary School in Royal Palm Beach thought they were practicing for a Memorial Day program.
What Aliana Duce didn't know was that her dad's secret operation really brought her to the cafeteria on what seemed like a normal Thursday morning.
Specialist Johnnie Duce came walking around the corner, flowers in hand for his little girl, and gave her the surprise of a lifetime. "It's just amazing, it's a beautiful feeling. I can't explain it, it's unexplainable. I'm just blessed to be here, just blessed," he said moments after.
Duce has been in the military for 3 years and this was his first deployment overseas. He said being away from his family was the hardest part.
His son was an infant when he was deployed. "It's amazing like this little guy here (his son), when I left he was two months, now iI get to actually spend some time with him and learn him, learn his personality, teach him some things," he says.
Pulling off the big moment wasn't easy. Duce hid in his mother's room last night and left the rest of the planning up to the school. His daughter thought he was coming home on Saturday.
She says when she saw him, she just wanted to give him a hug. Now they have time to make up for his absence with smiles, laughs, and special father-daughter moments.
"I got a little sensitive when they were singing the song, it's amazing to be home, see my daughter and my niece, my son and my wife and my mom, it's just a blessing thanks to God that I'm here," Duce says.
Duce says the first thing he is looking forward to is a home-cooked meal from his mom.
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