Graduation day extra special for Patrick Henry grad - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Graduation day extra special for Patrick Henry grad

HAMLER, OH (Toledo News Now) -

The Patrick Henry Class of 2013 graduated Sunday afternoon in Hamler.

One of the students, Mikayla Zentz, received her diploma and a very special surprise from a very special man in her life.

Little did she know that hiding just feet away from her was her dad, Master Sgt. Jeff Zentz of the Ohio Army National Guard.

He's a career military man, often missing big events in her life while deployed to places like Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan.

"And she once told me 'Dad, I have you for the rest of your life. But your soldiers only have you for a short time when they call on you. Dad, I'm willing to accept that'," said Sgt. Zentz.

But Mikayla's mom April wasn't.

She convinced military brass to give her husband a four day pass from his current assignment at Ft. Hood, Texas so he could be home in Hamler for Mikayla's graduation.

"He missed a lot. He missed her first steps, proms, homecomings. It was important to have him witness this," said Ms. Zentz.

And he did.

Mikayla proudly walked up to get her degree before classmates and a packed gymnasium.

That's when Sgt. Zentz came out with a bouquet of flowers to go along with a big hug, a few tears and a rousing round of applause from the crowd.

Mikayla was stunned by the happy homecoming.

"It means everything. I didn't think I would see him at all. Now he's here and the whole family is here, both sides which never happens. Now the whole family can see him and not just me," said Mikayla.

Next up for Sgt. Zentz is another deployment, this one for a year to Kuwait.

For Mikayla, it's Michigan State University where she plans to earn a doctorate degree in psychology.

She wants to help veterans with emotional problems.

"My whole family is military and I feel I can better myself and others by helping the veterans," said Mikayla.

But on this Memorial Day weekend, Mikayla plans to spend some quality time with the number one soldier in her life.

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