Soldier surprises daughter at school after 9 months overseas

SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA) – What do you remember about being nine? We’re guessing Mallory Chance in Spartanburg will never forget the day her soldier dad came home from serving overseas.

He surprised her at her school Thursday morning, and we were there to catch the surprise reunion.

Army Specialist Jon Michael Chance hadn’t seen his daughter for 259 days.

The celebration started at 06:00 when the Cannons Ruritan club lined Old Converse Road outside Cannons Elementary with Old Glory.

At 11:00 our news crew arrived under the guise of a school lunch story.

And after nine months of duty in South Korea, Specialist Chance walked into his daughter’s lunchroom as 9-year-old Mallory was overcome with surprise and delight.

“Hey baby girl,” he said.

She was speechless, but the long hug that followed was a long time coming.

“My heart just melted, I’ve been waiting for this day. But yeah, she has grown quite a bit and matured quite a bit since then,” said Chance.

“I’m proud of my daddy,” said Mallory.

She was all too happy to share the joyful day with her teachers and classmates.

“It made a lot of people happy and if I make people happy that makes me happy,” said Mallory.

Her mother, Nikki and the school spent weeks planning the surprise.

“I wanted it to be special for her because she sacrificed a lot while he’s been gone,” said Nikki.

Chance’s father, a Vietnam vet, was touched to see the warm reception.

“Back during the Vietnam era when we came back the reception was not there, it was more hostility than it was welcome home. That’s why today it was just awesome,” said Richard Chance.

Some teachers made signs and decorated the lunch room, and Mrs. Lowery’s 3rd grade class even prepared a patriotic poem.

The homecoming of specialist Chance will eventually mean a new home for Mallory. The family will be joining him at Fort Bragg in NC at the end of the school year.

When we talk about sacrifices it might seem distant, but when you see it up close, I think the children connect to that,” said Cannons Elementary Principal Karen Grimm.

“It’s good to be home,” said Specialist Chance with tears in his eyes.

It may be a long time until Mallory lets go of her Daddy. And it will no doubt be a lifetime that this joyful reunion will stay in their memories.

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