LOWER SWATARA TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Payson Stark, a kindergartener at Robert G. Reid Elementary, hadn’t seen her dad in more than a year. He’s in the Air Force, stationed nearly 7,000 miles away at Osan Air Base in South Korea.
Payson has been a little down lately knowing she won’t see her dad for Christmas, so she didn’t seem overly excited today at school when her class had a special program meeting community helpers, including a police officer, a firefighter and a doctor.
Then, Staff Sergeant Trevor Stark walked into the classroom.
Payson almost didn’t believe it. She sat motionless for a full 10 seconds before finally getting up and running toward her dad. He scooped her up in an embrace.
SSgt. Stark flew 14 hours to surprise her.
“We thought it was a good idea to surprise the kids with coming home for Christmas,” he said.
Payson’s little brother Witten was more vocal with his excitement. He had been surprised earlier in the day and wouldn’t leave his father’s side.
SSgt. Stark has been with the air force eight years, and said he intends to stay at least 12 more. So he cherishes every second his family can be together.
“It was emotional, as you guys saw,” SSgt. Stark said. “But it was heartwarming at the same time to know that I’m finally home for once and I get to stay home this time.”
The family isn’t staying home for long. SSgt. Stark begins a new deployment at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany early next month.
But this time, he won’t be going alone; the whole family is moving there with him. In the meantime, the family is going to enjoy their last few weeks in America.
“[Witten] wants to go to Chuck E. Cheese, so I guess we’ll do that,” SSgt. Stark said.