Graduating Senior Cries After Surprise from Army Dad She Hasn't Seen in Years

Monica Otayza
May 24, 2019
11:55 A.M.

A graduate from St. Thomas Aquinas High School was brought to tears on stage when she was surprised by her dad that she hasn't seen in ten long years.


Kayla Tillman got a whole lot more than just her high school diploma this week, as her dad flew for 24 hours just to see her march onstage.

At first, it seemed like the normal graduation ceremony, with all seniors walking through the stage in their navy togas. However, after everyone was done, Kayla Tillman was called back on-stage. At first, she thought it was because she was about to be a "graduate of distinction." However, when one of the school officials began talking, it was clear that something was up.


The official thanked her and her family "for the sacrifices you have made to protect our freedom," which had the entire Nova Southeastern University auditorium roar in applause. That was when the announcement was made:

"All the way from Korea, please welcome U.S. Staff Sergeant, Anthony Tillman, Kayla's dad!"

At that very moment, Kayla's dad, a tank commander in the US Army who was deployed for ten years, walked on-stage.


The father and daughter were brought to tears, as they've only seen each other through video calls in the past decade. The whole moment was caught in camera, which had even viewers from the audience in tears.

According to U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Anthony Tillman, he was deployed since his daughter was in the fourth grade.

"I was deployed in Korea. I missed most of my daughter's life, high school life, probably since fourth grade. I’m a tank commander. I have a combat MOS, and I always think about them, when I’m out there doing my job, to make sure that I make it back safe to them. That was really my motivation, thinking about my daughters. I gotta go home to them.”


It is unclear whether or not Staff Sgt. Tillman will be returning to Korea, or if he will be retiring and staying with his family in Florida.

Nonetheless, the family is set to have a great time celebrating not just Kayla's graduation, but the return of their dad.

Please fill in your e-mail so we can share with you our top stories!
By subscribing, you agree to our Privacy Policy
Related posts

Stepson Mocked by Adoptive Parents & Their Children Finds Letters They Hid from Him – Story of the Day

March 12, 2022

Daughter Goes to Mom's Grave with Her Unread Letter, Nervously Opens It after 20 Minutes

May 18, 2022

Old Man Is Banned from Granddaughter’s Wedding after His Kids Finds Out He Works as a Janitor – Story of the Day

April 06, 2022

Girl Bans Single Mom from Her Graduation after Learning She Works as a Cleaner — Story of the Day

April 25, 2022

Crying Soldier Is Late for Flight, Staff Tenses as Voice Says, ‘Don’t Let Him Get on the Plane!’ – Story of the Day

May 24, 2022

Three Homeless Sisters Inherit $4.7 Million Mansion from Man They’ve Never Met Before – Story of the Day

April 26, 2022

Wanting to Be a Lifeguard Like Late Dad, Boy Saves Drowning Girl & Gets a Box from Her Mom Later — Story of the Day

March 29, 2022

Jon Bon Jovi Has Been Married to His Wife for 33 Years and Is a Proud Father of 4

March 01, 2022

Kelly McGillis of ‘Top Gun’ Now Keeps a Low Profile in a Rural Town Where She Does Not Have to Work

March 12, 2022

Boy Whose Father Was Killed Approaches Stepdad and Asks: 'Will You Be My Dad Forever?'

April 01, 2022

18-Year-Old Dancer Cuts Parents Out of Her $3M Prize After They Urge Her to Get Rid of Her Baby — Story of the Day

February 08, 2022

Father Hides Letter Addressed to Daughter from Her Boyfriend, She Finds It Years Later – Story of the Day

February 13, 2022

Man Who Hasn’t Seen His Old Dad for 17 Years Visits and Sees His House Ruined — Story of the Day

March 10, 2022

6-Year-Old Girl Wets Her Pants at School, Dad Comes to Pick Her Up — In Wet Pants Too

April 21, 2022