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Eighth grader's father returns from Iraq for surprise visit

April 4, 2008 4:23:22 PM PDT
A suburban middle school student received a special surprise at school Friday.Fourteen-year-old Kaitlyn Cavanaugh's father had been serving in Iraq for the last year, but he came home on leave to help her celebrate her birthday.

Their reunion during a school assembly Friday was an emotional one.

The eighth grader's father walked into the gym to a group of students expecting to hear from an Iraqi soldier about his tour of duty. Kaityn was overwhelmed with joy and emotion instantly. It had more than a year since she had seen her father, and both father and daughter said it had been a difficult year.

"Something I've done in the past is to surprise her at times, but this is obviously the best one. It's a great day for me," Master Sgt. William Cavanagh said.

"I was just, like, 'Oh, it's just going to be another assembly,' and then I saw my dad, and I was like, 'Oh, my god, it's my dad!'" said Kaitlyn.

Kaitlyn found out her father was going to Iraq around the same time she lost her home to a fire. Friday's reunion was orchestrated by the master sergeant and his former wife.

"She was celebrating her birthday, and with the fire and all, she's really missed her dad," Kaitlyn's mother Mary Angelini said.

Master Sgt. Cavanaugh travels by helicopter visiting wounded soldiers. He talked to students Friday about how important it is for him to serve his country.

"It's a privilege to serve the American people. I get a little choked up thinking about it," he said.

He has served in Bosnia, as well as Iraq, but the father will spend the weekend with his daughter.

"I love you, Dad, and I miss you a lot," Kaitlyn told her father. "I'm glad you're back."

"I missed you a lot," he said.


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