SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – A South Plainfield father serving overseas in the Air National Guard recently returned home and surprised his children at their respective schools. 

Michaeles Martinez, a senior airman with the Air Force’s 108th Air Refueling Wing, surprised his 6-year-old son Michaeles Shayden during lunch at Riley Elementary School on Jan. 28 before heading over to South Plainfield High School to surprise his 16-year-old daughter Shailynn. The father of five had been deployed to the Middle East since July 2018. 

Although his children knew he’d be coming home ‘soon,’ Martinez said no exact date was ever discussed. “I just kept telling them soon and gave them the run-around,” Martinez told TAPinto South Plainfield, adding that he was originally scheduled to return the evening of Jan. 27, but an expedited flight got him home a day early. 

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In an effort to keep his return a surprise and make the reunion more memorable, Martinez stayed two nights at his mother’s home in Edison and arrived at Riley School on Monday during his son’s lunch period.

“I was surprised. I feel like this a dream,” said Michaeles, who turned six last Wednesday and was obviously 'sad' his dad wasn't home to celebrate with him. “I missed my dad and now I get to do stuff with him again. I really like to swing around with him.”

During his visit to Riley, Martinez had the opportunity to meet several of his son's classmates and dozens of students lined up to shake the airman's hand and thank him for his service. 

“This is awesome,” said Riley Principal Leo Whalen, who worked with Martinez’ wife Aileen to organize the surprise in just a few short hours. “You see it [on the news] so many times and now it gets to happen here. I am honored to be able to do this.”

Martinez will celebrate his fourth anniversary with the Air National Guard this March and will return to his job in the engineering department at currently employed by Con Edison and works in the company’s Con Edison until his next deployment. He and his wife, Aileen, have been married 24 years and are parents to Shailynn and Michaeles as well as Shianne, 23, Shanaya, 20, and Mizziahes Shelden, 1. 

“Besides being away for training, this was his first time away from home and in a different country," said Aileen. "To have him back is just wonderful."

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