U.S. Army Sgt. Corey Jackson of Arlington was supposed to be half way around the world. His son Damian, a student at Wimbish Elementary, was under the impression that his dad was in Kuwait.
That is, until Sgt. Jackson walked into Damian's fourth-grade class on Monday, surprising his son.
It took a moment for Damian jump out of his seat and greet his dad.
“I saw an army dude, and he was staring at me, and then I saw his face and I was shocked. I didn't know what to do,” said Damian, recalling how he froze with surprise upon seeing his dad.
“I really just wanted to hug him until he falls,” said Damian. “I hadn't talked to him for a long time and had no idea when he was coming.”
Sgt. Jackson has been on a year-long deployment since June 2011. He’s not scheduled to be home until June 2012, but was approved for a two week R&R so he could visit his family.
The surprise was three weeks in the making. It took equal amounts coordination and secrecy between Sgt. Jackson, friends and the school. The 12-year military veteran flew into DFW this weekend and laid low. But, he admits, it wasn't easy to stay away from Damian considering how close he was.
“It was a fight, it was a fight. I was like, no, no, no, go with the plan. It took 75-percent of my military skills, to remain and control that discipline,” joked Sgt. Jackson.
“I talk to him on the phone a lot and he's like, 'Dad, I just miss you,' and it crushes me to hear it but I'm like, 'son, I'm doing my job, I'm doing my job,” continued Sgt. Jackson.
“I haven’t seen him for nine months and I couldn't stop thinking about him for even three minutes,” said Damian.
While Sgt. Jackson is indeed Army Strong, he often looks to an army of one to find that strength.
“A lot of times [my son] is my strength,” said Sgt. Jackson. “When I was going through some hard times I would just think about my son and he would get me through a lot.”