Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Army dad reunites with kids

by Rob Ireland

March 24, 2011

Walworth — Holding flowers, dressed in camouflage and wearing a big smile, Army SSG. Aaron Stamm, who had been in Iraq since October, marched toward the stage at Walworth Elementary School where his kids were waiting with their eyes closed.

Moments before, in front of the entire school, his son, Kenton, 6, was asked by his teacher to make a wish, and he yelled into the microphone that he wanted his dad to come home “foreeeever.” After he made his wish, he and his sister, Kayla, 4, and the rest of his classmates were asked to keep their eyes closed, cross their fingers and to wish really hard for Aaron to return home.

The excitement was too much for Kenton, who couldn’t keep his eyes closed for very long. He peeked, ran toward his father, screamed “daddy” and jumped into his arms. His dad hugged him and carried him back to his seat where he also was reunited with his daughter.

When the kindergartner yelled “daddy” and hugged his father, about 500 onlookers erupted into applause. Then, Kenton went to the microphone and invited all the students at the school to come up to the stage “to hug his daddy if they want.”

During, a special homecoming assembly April 16, students at Walworth Elementary School showered Aaron with patriotic gifts and welcomed him back to Walworth County. The soldier had returned from his third deployment to Iraq.

Before his reunion, Aaron hid in a hallway waiting for the assembly to start.

“It is going to be an experience seeing my kids, from what I’ve heard they have grown up a lot since October,” Aaron said. “It will be another experience seeing how they have grown through the three deployments that I’ve been on.”

Prior to the assembly, Aaron said the reception was something he never expected.

“This is a lot more than I’m use to. I’m probably not going to be talkative because I’m not good with crowds,” the soldier said.

Aaron’s wife, Keni, said she asked her children’s teachers if her husband could surprise his kids at school. She said from there, the teachers planned a much bigger event.

Keni said she picked her husband up from the airport on Tuesday night and her kids weren’t aware of the homecoming celebration.

“They know he is coming home today, but they don’t realize the whole event at the school is for their dad,” she said.

After the reunion, while playing with a wind-up dinosaur, Kenton said he thought he was going to see his father after school. At that time, he also said he had to peek a little bit while he was told to keep his eyes closed.

At home, Kenton has been counting down the days until his father returned, Keni said.

“My son has especially been marking down the days and counting down.” Keni said.

Both Kayla and Kenton have been sharing the countdown experience with their classmates. In Iraq, Aaron was able to record videos of himself reading children’s books.

The program, which is run by the USO, sends a copy of the book and a DVD of the recording to military kids.

Kayla and Kenton’s teachers played the DVDs of Aaron reading the books during class.

Although Aaron received a warm reception last week, his homecoming will be short-lived. He expects to be deployed to Italy in April.