Soldier surprises daughters at school

GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - After an almost two-hour weather delay, 150 soldiers based in Gonzales, are home. For the last nine months, the 922 has been in Kuwait. Most family members met their loved ones right off the plane at the Baton Rouge airport. But two little girls who attend Ascension Christian Elementary got a surprise from their father, Staff Sergeant Richard Bush, at school.

Teachers at the school planned the whole thing, with help from Bush's wife, Selina. They combined a Pre-K class with five-year-old Lailah Bush's Kindergarten class. Lailah's sister, Leah, 3, was also brought in.

The group was singing Christmas carols, when a teacher pulled the Bush girls to the side and handed them a sign that read, "All I want for Christmas is a hug from my Dad." None of the kids in the room knew what the sign said; they are beginning readers, so they didn't know all the words.

Teachers say Lailah knew there was some sort of surprise for her, but she didn't know what. When she caught sight of her dad in the hallway, she had things figured out.

"Daddy!" she yelled, with a huge smile on her face.

Lailah's teacher says since school started in August, she's been telling them all about her dad.

The Bush girls knew their father was gone, but they didn't know where.

"All they knew was Daddy was at work," said Staff Sgt. Bush.

The last time the girls saw their father was earlier this year, in January, when he left home. Since then there have been a few changes. Lailah now has a new smile, she's lost two teeth.

Bush will also be meeting both girls' teachers for the first time; he says he's ready to play catch up.

His return is not only in time for Christmas, it's also in time for Leah's birthday. She turns four on December 28.

"Are you home for good Daddy?" Leah asked, while her dad held her. His response, "Yes, I'm home."

The girls' mother says seeing their reaction is almost like Christmas has come early for their family. Next they will get a Christmas tree and enjoying time together; which means Tuesday, the Bush girls will not be at school, they'll be spending time together as a family.

Another 150 Louisiana soldiers will return home Tuesday.

Copyright 2013 WAFB. All rights reserved.