Operation dad: Soldier surprises elementary students during a game of “Simon Says”

When a soldier is sent to war, his family at home tends to serve, also.

That’s why the Joshua and Beatriz McKee family will be celebrating for the next few days:

Joshua returned to Lubbock on Thursday from Iraq for a surprise visit to their children at Wheelock Elementary School.

Wheelock teachers set up the McKee family meeting during a rehearsal for an assembly and created an excuse to temporarily blindfold the children while Joshua walked to the center of the gym to greet them.

Spc. McKee said his wife, Beatriz, was able to keep the secret until the meeting.

“I just gave her the dates, and she ended up telling me when he got his award,” he said of Jaevoni McKee, who is a kindergarten student chosen to receive the Wheelock Future Plainsman Award for achievements in his school work.

McKee, who served as an all-wheel mechanic in his work in Iraq, said, “I was trying to make it out here in time for his award, since I missed pretty much everything for the whole year.”

Diamond Duran, a fifth-grader, said she was glad to see him come back and was looking forward to play time with her family.

The family also includes Zoey McKee, 3.

McKee enlisted in the Army about three years ago. “I will have to think about signing up again — it was hard to be away from them this long. I don’t know if I could do it again — but if I have to, I will.”

He isn’t worried about the building tension in North Korea.

“It’s nothing but games. I tell a lot of people: ‘Don’t worry about what’s going on — they underestimate our military.’ Our military is one to reckon with — people wouldn’t worry if they

knew what we’re capable of. I’ve seen it firsthand.”

But the good news for the McKee family is that he is now stationed at Fort Hamilton, Kentucky, and won’t go back to Iraq unless he signs up again.

Beatriz said of the couple’s plans for the immediate future:

“Just hanging out with the kids — a bunch of family stuff.”

(c)2017 the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (Lubbock, Texas)
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