Brock soldier, father of two surprises children by returning home after delay

Posted Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The government shutdown impacted people across the nation directly while others in more subtle ways.

For Staff Sgt. Randy Branum, it meant he would not get to return from a year-long unaccompanied tour in Korea on schedule.

Wife Amanda and their two children – son Kale, 7, and daughter Kiley, 3 – had been prepared to meet Branum at the airport on Thurs., Oct. 17, but earlier that week she heard her husband would not return then because of the shutdown.

“We were very disappointed,” Amanda said.

Branum said he took the news more easily since he had to be used to accepting schedule changes in the Army, even if he didn’t appreciate it.

“I wasn’t happy about it,” Branum said.

But after a few days delay and about 50 hours of travel from Korea, Branum made it back home to Brock on Oct. 21.

While Amanda took Kale to school as normal at Brock Elementary, Branum’s father picked him up at the airport. Upon reaching home, Branum surprised his young daughter.

“She was so excited,” Amanda said.

They then went to the school to surprise Kale, who also had no idea when his father would come home.

The faculty called an assembly for the entire school and then chose three children – one of them Kale – as volunteers to welcome a surprise guest.

But while they watched one door, Branum entered through a different door and surprised his son from behind.

While students and teachers cheered and then sang God Bless America, Kale embraced his father.

“I’m so happy my dad got to come home,” Kale later said.

Kale said he was surprised by his father’s arrival although he had suspected his mother was keeping a secret from him.

Now he understood why his mother asked him to wear his Army shirt to school that day, Kale said.

“It feels good,” Branum said of finally being home. “It’s good seeing my kids and my wife.”

Branum left on his third tour October of 2012, but had three weeks back with his family in June.

His first two tours as part of communications were in Iraq. He will not have to leave again for at least three years.

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