Navy Dad Surprises Kids at School

Kaylie Crews is used to talking with her dad on video over the Internet. Thursday seemed like a typical chat session with her dad, Navy Cmdr. Dennis Crews, checking in from Afghanistan with her and her second-grade class at Jones Elementary School. What the children didn't know was he was at their school, sitting in Principal Galen Hoffstadt's office. He told them it would be a while before he returned home and his Skype connection was poor because of the weather in Bagram, Afghanistan. "We can see you crystal clear," his daughter, Kaylie, 8, chimed in. "If it goes out, you guys just try me again, OK?" Crews replied. The connection went out. Crews hurried to Kaylie's classroom with several school staff members."Do you guys just want to talk to me instead?" he asked as he walked in the classroom. Kaylie ran and hugged him. She held her Daddy Doll, a foot-tall toy with a picture of her father on the front. She carried it everywhere. Now, she was holding her father, too. Tears ran down her cheeks as her dad picked her up. Minutes later, Crews surprised his 5-year-old son Bo and his kindergarten class the same way before Kaylie joined them. "All right guys ... we're all together again," Crews said. Kaylie and Bo's classes connected with Crews through stories he told. Kaylie's class was so inspired by pictures of children in Bagram they started a schoolwide drive collecting candy, notebook paper, glue and pencils to send. Kaylie's class also sent cards and sang songs to Crews through Skype. Crews told the students he would visit them again soon to talk more about how them helped him on his tour before the family moves in February to Stuttgart, Germany for his new assignment. Kaylie and Bo had plenty of ideas on how to spend their dad's first day back. Bo said his dad should open Christmas presents he and his sister saved. "He came home," Bo said. "I missed him."