NIXA, Mo. -- Our cameras captured a heartwarming surprise at one Nixa school Friday morning.
A father, home from a year-long deployment, surprised his son and daughter at High Pointe Elementary. The big surprise happened in a school assembly just after 8:30 a.m. And the kids never expected it.
Technical Sergeant Cory O'Dell is in the Air Force. He has served the past year in South Korea. His kids, six-year-old Addison and five-year-old Kyler, knew he was coming back this month, but they didn't know the date. His wife, Mary, worked with school staff to plan the surprise.
The school already had an assembly planned for Friday morning where they routinely give out character awards. Addison's name was called first, and then, coincidentally, her younger brother's name. The school mascot, Baldwin, was on hand to hand out those awards. O'Dell surprised them when he pulled off the mascot's head.
"I was really nervous," said O'Dell. "I was really nervous. You know, it's always exciting to come home, but now to add all of this to it as well. But it was still really exciting. I'm glad the kids got to experience that."
Before South Korea, Corey was deployed to Africa for six months. So he's been gone for 18 of the last 24 months, a very difficult couple of years for him and his family. They're looking forward to spending lots of time together.