UNION, NJ – Two special Washington Elementary School students received a huge surprise on Friday when their military dad, who they had not seen in almost a year, made a special surprise appearance at the school.

Kindergarten student Ian DeAquino and his brother, third-grader Aedan DeAquino attended a surprise assembly Friday afternoon with the entire student body.  Called up on stage by Principal Thomas Matthews, the boys were asked if they could think of anything special they’d like for Christmas.  Ian said he’d like a teddy bear.  At that moment, Aedan couldn’t think of anything he wanted.  Then Matthews said, “well, we have a present for you right now.  Could that present please show itself to us?”  And Jesiel DeAquino, the boys’ dad, stepped from behind the stage curtain. 

“This is love,” said Matthews.  “This is what we’re all about.  We are a family.”

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DeAquino, with his wife Jessica, older daughter Agatha, 14, a Kawameeh Middle School student, and youngest daughter Alana, said he was deployed to Jordan in the National Guard for almost a year.  He said he has now completed his service.

Asked how he feels to have his dad back home, Aedan said, “I just feel happy.”