View Full Version : Daughter gets surprise: Daddy home from Iraq

02-08-09, 09:49 AM
Daughter gets surprise: Daddy home from Iraq
By Donn Williams - Marinette EagleHerald
Posted : Sunday Feb 8, 2009 8:57:30 EST

MARINETTE, Wis. — “Oh Daddy!” Jessica Weiss cried out as she ran up to her father and wrapped her arms tightly around his neck.

“I love you,” Marine Sgt. Richard Weiss told his 6-year-old daughter. He hadn’t seen her for eight months.

“I love you,” little Jessica answered.

The reunion in the hallway Wednesday afternoon at Merryman School was a total surprise for Jessica.

Her father had just returned from Iraq.

There he had been serving as a data chief for Marine Aircraft Group 24 based at Al Asad Airfield, about 100 miles west of Baghdad.

He asked his wife Deb not to say anything to his oldest daughter about him coming home, so the two of them could share this special moment.

The reunion was made all the more touching by a picture Jessica drew that hung on the hallway wall behind them.

Last month on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, she and her classmates learned about King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.

They were asked to draw a picture of their dream.

Jessica’s was to have her family together again.

The last time they were together was June of last year, when Deb, Jessica, and Brandi who will be 2 next month lived with Richard in Hawaii, where his unit was stationed.

When her husband was deployed, Deb brought her family back to Marinette to be close to relatives.

“My oldest absolutely loves her family. It means a lot to her,” Deb said. “So we moved back here where she could she see as much of her family as possible.”

Deb is the daughter of David and Pat Smith. Richard’s parents are Gary and Susan Gosenheimer. Both families live in Marinette.

Deb admits life without her husband was difficult.

“I tried to keep myself busy and not think about where he was, because if I sat down and thought about that, it just became overwhelming,” she said.

Eight months of waiting finally ended Wednesday when Deb and Brandi met Richard at Austin Straubel International Airport in Green Bay.

Richard couldn’t believe how much his girls grew while he was away, and Brandi is talking a lot more now.

“She was really shy when I first got off the plane,” Richard said. “She didn’t want to come to me at first.”

When they got to Merryman School, Brandi had a wide smile on her face.

Richard plans to hang out with family during his two-week visit home and celebrate his birthday on Saturday. He wants to spend some special time with his younger brother Christopher Merritt.

Merritt is a member of Company D of the National Guard unit in Marinette that is scheduled to be deployed to Iraq a second time later this month.

“It’s a lot better over there but it’s definitely still dangerous,” Richard said. “We’re starting to hand things over to the Iraqis now, so we’re getting more and more hands off.”

Richard plans to make the Marines a career.

He will leave Marinette Feb. 21 to return to Hawaii for more training. After that, he’s not sure where he will be stationed. Deb is hopeful the family will be together again.

Right now, she and her two girls are simply enjoying having their husband and father home.

“I’m ecstatic,” Deb said. “I’m so happy to see the smiles on their faces now that Daddy is around.”