CT dad returning from deployment overseas surprises wife, daughters ahead of Thanksgiving

New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A U.S. Air Force Sergeant and National Guard member from New Haven surprised his two daughters Monday, just in time for Thanksgiving. 

Third-grader Serenity Cunningham sat next to her classmates at Benjamin Jepson School Monday listening to her teacher like any other day. What she didn’t know was she was in for a big surprise. 

Serenity spotted her dad, Sergeant Andre Cunningham, walking around the corner and ran into his arms. 

Next up, was little sister Mariah, a pre-kindergartener. As soon as Mariah noticed her dad, she jumped up to him and wouldn’t let go.

Sergeant Cunningham came back to New Haven after nearly four months deployed in the Middle East working as a technician. He’s been in the service for 11 years, but this was the first time Mariah experienced a deployment. 

“They tell me every day how much they miss me so I knew that this was special for them,” Sergeant Cunningham told News 8. 

His wife, Shoneace, said the girls were anxiously waiting for their dad to come home, and he wasn’t supposed to be back so soon.

“Every day was a countdown. Every day was a new topic talking to dad,” Shoneace said. “Every day was ‘daddy’s coming this day. We have 13 more days. We have 14 more days.’”

In fact, Sergeant Cunningham took it upon himself to surprise his wife first.

“I get there to the hotel. I walk into the room, it’s decorated, and I’m standing there in shock, and then two seconds later he’s coming in the door behind me and I lost it,” Shoneace recalled.

Their girls were just as stunned. “When I first saw my dad, I was very happy,” Serenity said.  

They also were ready to beg daddy for one thing. “I’m going to keep asking him for a puppy,” Serenity said. 

Sergeant Cunningham did confirm he’ll be on the lookout for a family dog. He has some time off to spend with his family before returning to work. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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