VALDOSTA — Tech. Sgt. Marcus Goodloe surprised his seventh-grade daughter, Neveah Goodloe, at J.L. Newbern Middle School Thursday when he came home early from deployment.
Goodloe deployed more than five months ago but he wasn’t scheduled to return until sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The surprise was orchestrated by the School Resource Officer Richard Burkhart.
Originally, Burkhart reached out to Goodloe after Nevaeh joined the school’s newly formed flag detail to see if he would like to lower and fold the flag with his daughter, Burkhart said. But when Burkhart reached out to Naveah’s father, he learned Goodloe was deployed.
From there, Burkhart helped put the pieces in place.
Since Naveah is on the flag detail, she was lined up in front of the flag with her peers when her father walked out from behind her, toward the flag, and stood at attention until she noticed him.
Nevaeh quickly noticed her father and ran out to hug Goodloe for the first time in five months.
After the embrace, the technical sergeant stood at attention in uniform while his daughter lowered the flag. Then, the two properly folded the flag.
After the folding, Assistant Principal James White presented the Goodloes with the flag in a triangular case and a small placard reading “Welcome home, Daddy.”
When asked how she felt once she recognized her father, Neveah said, “I was happy. … I did not know he was coming home today.”
Goodloe said he is grateful to Burkhart for setting up the surprise.
“I’ll never forget this moment,” Goodloe said.
(c)2017 The Valdosta Daily Times (Valdosta, Ga.)
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
By Jason A. Smith
The Valdosta Daily Times, Ga.