Graduating Senior Cries After Surprise from Army Dad She Hasn't Seen in Years
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.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Anthony Tillman missed his daughter Kayla's four years of high school due to his military service—so he was determined not to miss her high school graduation: https://t.co/jnOGYznoGC pic.twitter.com/XcQfwzKuge— ABC News (@ABC) May 24, 2019
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.
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This high school senior got a huge graduation day surprise when her father, a deployed Army commander, surprised her onstage after years apart. "I felt like I was hugging him for hours. I felt like I was hugging him a little bit too long," said graduate Kayla Tillman. Kayla said her dad had been serving in South Korea and has been in the Army since she was in the second grade.
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.”
GRADUATION SURPRISE - After spending nearly 10 years out on deployment, US Army Staff Sgt. Anthony Tillman returned to South Florida to surprise his graduating daughter 😭 https://t.co/pZxOLuOjgY— WSVN 7 News (@wsvn) May 20, 2019
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.