4-year-old reunited with deployed dad

4-year-old Ella Jane and her dad, Major Brian Henderson

May 20, 2011 4:20:43 AM PDT
A 4-year-old-girl received a huge surprise Thursday at her Fayetteville day care.

Ella Jane Henderson's day started out as usual with preschool, playing, and mud pies until her mother showed up with a surprise.

It was Ella Jane's dad.

Ella Jane's mother, Amiee Henderson, says the reunion between her daughter and husband was a moment they waited for 17 months.

"It's been a long time for me," Aimee said. "He left when she was three, and she will be five in June."

Major Brian Henderson was in Iraq as part of a special operations civil affairs unit. He admits his deployments have taken a lot away from his family life.

The war in Iraq has been a sacrifice for all military families, especially repeat deployments that young children don't understand.

"Cause they miss a lot and it's hard to explain it in terms they can understand and sometimes you have to deal with it yourself," Aimee said.

The family has a lot of catching up to do. Major Henderson made it home just in time for a special treat.

"Made it back in time for the Daddy-Daughter Dance next week," he said.

Ella Jane has a younger brother who also is excited about having dad home. Major Henderson will be around for a while. Later this summer, the family will move to Ft. Levenworth in Kansas for a military school assignment, so there won't be any more deployments for a while.

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