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‘These are tears of joy’: Navy mother surprises daughter, son after year of deployment

Published: May. 25, 2022 at 7:32 PM EDT
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LOUISA, Va. (WWBT) - Wednesday was award day for the 1st-graders at Moss-Nuckols Elementary in Louisa. Eager students proudly displayed their certificates as their parents snapped pictures. Still, no ceremony is quite complete without a surprise or two, and the best surprises are always saved for last.

Towards the end of the ceremony, Moss-Nuckols Principal Anita Roane directed the attention of students and parents to the back of the gymnasium, where one parent had been anxiously waiting to make her presence known.

“Miss Lenhart is bringing in a very special family member. Today, we have Captain Dawn Wynn, who has returned for a year-long deployment in Kuwait!” said Roane.

Navy Captain Wynn surprised her 1st-grade daughter, London, and her 4-year-old son, during the ceremony. Her daughter quickly broke away from her classmates and rushed into her mother’s arms for the first tearful embrace they had shared in nearly a year. Her 4-year-old son wasn’t far behind.

“Why are you crying?” he asked.

“Oh, baby Mommy’s happy!” Wynn said. “These are tears of joy, bud!”

London’s first-grade teacher Carrie Lynhart orchestrated the reunion when she was notified that Wynn would be returning home from deployment around the same time the 1st-grader’s award ceremony would be held. Lenhart says keeping the surprise reunion a secret was easy.

“We didn’t talk about anything... it was all hush-hush,” Lenhart said. “I wanted to give her this moment because I knew her mom was away. I did this for her.”

“With any service member, there are so many milestones that you miss while you’re on deployment; that you miss with your family and your kids. And so, I know this was a special moment for her because she received an award, but also it’s a special moment as a family, and for me to see it because I’ve missed so much in the past year,” Wynn said.

But even with nearly 24 years of training and discipline in the Navy, Wynn says she wasn’t prepared to hold back her tears.

“I couldn’t help it; it comes with being a mom,” Wynn said.

Wynn actually returned from deployment two weeks ago after serving overseas in Kuwait. She says she was able to keep herself hidden and occupied as she waited for the day when she would surprise her children.

“I relied on my military training,” Wynn laughed.

“It’s just amazing to see the look on her face as Captain Wynn walked down the aisle. It was just amazing,” Roane said,

But perhaps nothing, not even medals won overseas or awards earned in the classroom, comes close to this.

“The great thing about the military is they give you... and so I’m going to take all of it as much as I can and soak up as much time with my family before I have to go back to work,” Wynn said.

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