Airman brings son to tears when he surprises him at school after 7-month deployment

Amani Rodriguez thought he was in trouble when he was called to the principal’s office Tuesday afternoon at Division Avenue High School in Levittown.

Instead, when the freshman walked into the office, his father, Air Force Technical Sgt. Kelvin Rodriguez, was there to surprise him after returning from a seven-month deployment overseas — his last after more than 10 years of service.

In an emotional video that captures the surprise, Amani Rodriguez, 15, walks into the office behind Principal John Coscia, recognizes his dad and walks straight into his arms in tears.

“I was so shocked,” he said Wednesday. “I was not expecting it at all.”

Only Kelvin Rodriguez’s mother knew of his arrival stateside at 2 a.m. Tuesday. The rest of his family believed that he wasn’t going to come home for another month.

Rodriguez’s first stop was to surprise his wife, Arlene, at their home in Levittown. She wanted to surprise their sons at school right away.

“I wanted to change out of my uniform, but my wife told me to just leave it on and go,” said Kelvin Rodriguez, 34.

They first surprised their 8-year-old son at Northside Elementary School, then got in touch with the assistant principal at Division Avenue to set up the surprise for Amani.

After surprising Amani at school the Rodriguezes had a small get-together with family and friends to celebrate Kelvin Rodriguez’s return.

As for the next few months, “I just plan to spend time with my family and relax,” Kelvin Rodriguez said. Their family also has plans to vacation in Australia and New Zealand in April.

“It was a tough seven months without him,” Arlene Rodriguez said.

But it was also a period of closeness with her older son.

“I think my son and I got the closest while he was gone,” she said.

Kelvin Rodriguez said this deployment was his last and he was looking forward to spending more time with family.

“When I did see him, I was so happy,” Amani said, “because I missed him so much.”

By Erika Peters erika.peters@newsday.com

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