MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - After serving overseas, a North Mississippi soldier made a very special visit Wednesday to surprise his daughter.
Army National Guardsman Joshua Stokes had been deployed for a year, spending most of his time in Kuwait.
After returning from his first deployment, he surprised his daughter at DeSoto Central Primary School.
"You miss a lot,” Joshua said.
"It's been tough...a long year,” said his wife Macy.
Macy said they’ve had a fake countdown for their daughter, who thought it would be another five weeks before she got to see her dad.
Joshua has missed so many holidays like Christmas and Fourth of July while stationed in Kuwait.
Baby daughter Lila's first birthday also passed by. All the Stokes women missed their soldier for more than a year.
With Shelby's classmates lining the hall with American flags Wednesday afternoon, Joshua made his way to her classroom, sneaking up from behind.
“Just happy to see my girl,” Joshua said.
With a long embrace and tears, this daddy-daughter reunion was a long time coming.
"Most of the time I won't really think about him so that I wouldn't cry around everybody because that's really embarrassing,” Shelby said.
Shelby already has plans now that he is home.
She’s looking forward to playing Minecraft with her father, plus some activities.
“Daddy-daughter dates and tickle spiders,” Shelby said.
“When you do get to come home you get to make up for lost time,” Joshua said.
Other students decorated signs and held flags to greet the soldier as he entered the school.
“I’m excited for her, I feel like she deserves it,” Joshua said. “To me, this is more for her, than anything else. She’s been pretty tough this year and I’m glad she gets to have her moment!”