A Mt. Juliet soldier surprised his eight-year-old daughter at Rutland Elementary School Tuesday morning.
Sgt. Donald Rickley has been serving in Korea since September and was allowed to return home for Thanksgiving. His homecoming was a secret until Monday night when he surprised his wife Marcia.
Tuesday morning, the staff at Rutland Elementary announced that Abby Rickley had won a prize. She was brought to the center of a stage in the school gymnasium.
Sgt. Rickley was the surprise and tapped her on the shoulder after walking from behind the stage curtain.
Abby shouted “Daddy!” before grabbing him.
“She is my emotional one. She's the one that has problems with me being gone. Crying at night, you know,” Rickley told News 2.
Neither his wife Marcia nor their three daughters knew he returned to the states Monday.
Marcia Rickley told News 2 her husband surprised her at a ballet practice Monday night. A friend arranged for the couple to escape to a hotel room while she stayed with the children.
“I put the girls to bed. They thought mommy was in bed the whole time when I was away with Donnie,” said Marcia.
“It'll be nice to get them home and sit and have dinner with them and pick them up from school and homework,” said Sgt. Rickley.
Sgt. Rickley will spend the Thanksgiving holiday with his family before returning to duty December 6.