Fairfield Ledger
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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Jun 29, 2017

Soldier returns from duty, surprises family

By Xiomara Levsen, Golden Triangle News Service | May 09, 2017

WASHINGTON, Iowa (GTNS) – After not seeing his children for 11 months, Josh Dale surprised them Friday.

Josh was stationed with the 389th Engineer Company, of Burlington, as an electrician and military postman for his second deployment in Kuwait.

“We got a four day pass before we went overseas, so that was the last time I saw her [Randi],” Josh said. “I didn’t see her for probably about 10 months and then these two [Nate and Kaitlin] it was almost the whole year.”

Wednesday, Randi finished up the plans to surprise her children at school with their father in uniform. Thursday afternoon, Josh was released from active duty in Burlington. He spent the day with Randi, meanwhile the children were staying with friends Thursday night.

Friday morning, Josh went to Lincoln Elementary in Washington, where Nate is a fourth-grader to surprise him first. Nate had no idea what was happening.

“It was amazing,” Nate said. “I didn’t really see him until he went to the front. Then I was like, ‘What? Whatever?’

”Nate’s principal, Teresa Beenblossom, recorded the event and posted it on the district’s website. Everyone in the classroom had tears in their eyes.

“And you cried and cried,” Randi said.

After Josh surprised Nate, he went to Stewart Elementary to surprise his nephew, Braxton Rich.

“He lost his mind,” Josh said.

Rich wouldn’t let go of Josh when he realized who it was. A video was also recorded of the reunion by Stewart Elementary principal Adam Miller.

At the end of the video, Rich has his arms around Josh’s neck and is carried out of the classroom.

Finally, Josh, Randi and Nate went to Head Start to get Kaitlin.

Josh said it was hard not to see his children right away but was looking forward to surprising them.

“I wanted to see them really bad but I also wanted to surprise them,” Josh said. “Just to mostly see the reactions on their faces made it that much more [enjoyable.]”

Nate said being separated from his father was a horrible experience. He had to help his mom with his sister and do some extra chores around the house.

“Was wrestling hard?” Josh asked Nate.

Nate participates in the local wrestling club. Josh would cheer him on at the meets and help coach him.

Nate said he was proud of his dad for serving but was happy to have him back.

Josh doesn’t have to return for duty until August.

His plans over the weekend were to hang out with the family and catch up on everything that happened when he was overseas.

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