Soldier Returns From Afghanistan, Surprises Children at Basketball Game
Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Ishmael returned home and surprised his two children Saturday morning at his daughter's basketball game.
When Kaleigh and Noah Ishmael woke up this morning to get ready for Kaleigh’s away game at St. Simon the Apostle Catholic School, they had no idea that the most exciting moment on the court would take place before Kaleigh’s game even began.
Before the St. Simon and St. Justin Martyr girls had fully taken their positions on the floor, an unofficial time-out was called, and the unexpected happened: Kaleigh and Noah’s dad walked in.
Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Ishmael, of the 135th Military History Detachment, has been serving in the Parwan province of Afghanistan for the past 11 months. He knew that he would be heading home soon, but he didn’t know how soon.
“I missed everything about him,” Kyleigh said. “It’s been really hard.”
“We would get to talk to him on Skype every couple of weeks and tell him about what went on in the week,” Noah said, “but it wasn’t the same. I missed playing catch with him and just having him around.”
The family was expecting Sgt. Ishmael home some time in late February, but then the something exciting happened.
About two weeks ago, Kaleigh and Noah’s step-mother, Sarah, got news that the Detachment would be making an early arrival, but they chose not to tell the children until it was certain.
“With the military, things are always changing,” Sgt. Ishmael explained. “There’s always something that can hold you up. For kids, that’s crushing.”
Sgt. Ishmael arrived home on Jan. 28, and decided to surprise the children at the basketball game the next day.
“I only found out on Wednesday that he would be home for sure,” Sarah explained. “We happened to have the game on the schedule today, and Noah and Kaleigh were already staying with their mother, Nancy, on Friday night. We clued her in and she helped us plan the surprise.”
When Sgt. Ishmael stepped onto the court, Kaleigh squealed and jumped into his arms, and Noah ran down from the bleachers to join them.
“I cried a little bit because I am happy,” Kaleigh said. “I am just really excited.”
All together at last, the family sat down to watch Kaleigh’s team win their game, 11-10.
After the teams shook hands, Kaleigh skipped over to her family to hug her dad again.
In an earlier version of this story, we misspelled Ishmael's daughter's name. The corrected version appears above. We regret error.