6-year-old Madison got a special surprise when her father, Army Sgt. Ryan Bonnichsen, visited her during class.
Madison’s class was reading a picture book in the library at Apollo Elementary Tuesday afternoon, Florida Today reports. At about 1:15 p.m., Bonnichsen strode across the room and tapped her on the shoulder then scooped up her into his mighty military embrace. It had been a year since they've seen each other when Bonnichsen was deployed in Korea.
“This is incredible,” said third grade teacher Sharon Jaszczak. “This is the most special moment that she’ll ever remember. My dad did the same thing. He was a Marine, and he came home on Christmas Day and surprised us.”
“It’s exciting,” said Brittany Bonnichsen, Ryan’s wife. “He’s come home from deployment before, but it’s never been this big ordeal.”
Ryan visited his daughter’s classroom to thank the students for writing to him while he was on duty. He attended Apollo Elementary School as a child.
He said it’s “rough” being away from family for a year.
Though they keep in touch through online video chats, Madison has changed since he last saw her in person.
“She’s gotten a lot more mature, she’s a little taller,” he said. “From talking to her, she’s growing up quick.”
Sgt. Ryan Bonnichsen said he is due to return to Korea on April 14.
“From there, it’s unknown.”