Military dad surprises 1st grade daughter at Baldwin school

BALDWIN, Long Island (WABC) -- Students, staff and parents erupted in cheers as little Brooke Reyes's jaw dropped the moment she saw her military father, who was previously deployed in Dubai, walk into her Long Island school's gymnasium Friday.

Brooke's school, Plaza Elementary School in Baldwin, staged a Veteran's Day lesson so 35-year-old Jason Reyes could surprise his first-grader.

Before the homecoming, a teacher called Brooke to the front of the gym and asked her about her father.

"My dad is a veteran that he does so hard and that I miss him a lot and that he helps our country," she told her classmates.

In fact, Jason Reyes had just finished his second deployment serving in the United States Air Force as a Staff Sargent. In Dubai, not only did he miss Brooke's first day of school, but he wasn't around for the birth of his newest daughter, Bianca, who was born in August.

"I held her, and I just started crying," Reyes told reporters. "My words, my emotions, everything -- everything was just gone. I was just crying."

Sergeant Reyes will be on leave from the Air Force for at least the next two years, and he's got a lot to look forward to. Brooke said she has big plans for her dad, including many piggy back rides.

* More Long Island news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube
Copyright © 2022 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.