A local soldier who returned home after 12 years in Iraq and Afghanistan surprised two family members at school on Friday.
Staff Sgt. Dane Phelps got back into Evansville on Thursday. He wanted to keep it quiet so he could surprise his niece and little sister.
For the past 12 years, Phelps has been serving his country making five combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, briefly getting to come home. Sometimes he thought he never would.
"I didn't expect for this to happen," said Phelps. "I didn't expect to come home."
But on Thursday, he returned home and no one knew about it. Not even his niece or little sister.
Phelps walked the halls of Thompkins Middle School to find his niece, Dena, eating lunch.
It was a moment, an embrace, that both have hoped for, for a very long time.
Dena wasn't the only one set to be surprised. Phelps's little sister, Meghan, also had no clue her older brother is home for good.
"I'm not going anywhere again," Phelps told his family.
After the reunions, Phelps took his niece and sister out to lunch.
Both girls were granted an excused absence for the day to spend the special time with their loved one.
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