Soldier returns from a year-long deployment in Kuwait to surprise kids at school

Weymouth — Duncan and Kinsley Bellows knew they were being recognized Wednesday for their strong display of patience, but they had no idea just how much that patience would pay off.

After more than a year apart, Sergeant First Class Steven Bellows surprised his children, Duncan, 7, and Kinsley, 5, during an assembly at the Murphy Primary School on Wednesday afternoon.

Bellows had returned from a deployment to Kuwait with the U.S. Army just hours earlier, and stepped out from behind a curtain in the schools auditorium while his children were up on stage receiving their awards for patience. Both Duncan and Kinsley broke into tears and jumped into their father’s arms for a long embrace, as their classmates sang “I’m Proud to be an American,” and held welcome home signs. Bellows’s wife, Courtney, and their 1-year-old son, Wyatt, joined them on stage.

“I love being home. It’s great to be with my kids and family,” Bellows said after the surprise. “I waited a long time for that.”

Murphy Principal Patrick Costello said the school of about 200 students has an assembly once a month to read a book about a positive behavior, and Wednesday seemed like the perfect time to focus on the virtue of patience. Duncan’s teacher Danielle Coughlin read “Waiting is Not Easy” by Mo Willems — who provided a sign copy of the book for the Bellows family — before Duncan and Kinsley were invited up on stage for an award.

Costello said the school has several students who have parents serving in the military, but they never hosted a surprise homecoming before.

“It was very cool,” he said. “We’re glad it worked out.”

Bellows, who previously served deployments in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait, has been in the military for 15 years. Bellows said having several deployments under his belt helped him keep it together to carry out the surprise.

“I’ve done it a few times so I’m used it to, but it never gets easier,” he said.

The Bellows family will soon relocate to Fort Lewis in Washington with the U.S. Army.

State Rep. James Murphy, state Sen. Patrick O’Connor and Mayor Robert Hedlund also attended the surprise homecoming, and Hedlund provided a proclamation declaring Wednesday SFC Steven Bellows day in town.

“It’s touching to see community pride and patriotism on display. It’s a great experience for the family, but also for the students to be a part of this,” Hedlund said.

Hedlund said he couldn’t help but think about the fact that the Murphy School is named after Frederick C. Murphy — one of the five Medal of Honor recipients from Weymouth — and the pride Weymouth has for people who have served our country.

“To have this happen in a school named after a hero is nice symmetry in my mind,” Hedlund said.

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