Major Bryan Williams and his wife Katie have planned this undercover operation for months. The objective: surprise their four children at three Wylie campuses with his return from a 6-month deployment in Kuwait. With a little help from each campus, they pulled it off.
Phase one was to surprise son Trae who attends Wylie West Elementary. His first-grade teacher, Hollie Gannon, worked the surprise into her class activity.
Phase two was to surprise the two oldest daughters at Wylie West Junior High School. Eighth grader Maddy and sister sixth grader Amelia were surprised when their dad showed up to each of their classrooms.
Final phase was to surprise younger daughter Cara at Wylie West Intermediate. Unknowingly, Cara’s third grade class created patriotic posters to welcome Maj. Williams home said Liz Rotenberry, Cara’s homeroom teacher. “Cara and her classmates thought they posters were for President’s Day,” said Rotenberry.
Candice Stuart, who teaches Cara alongside Rotenberry, said they carefully planned to have the third and fourth grade students welcome Maj Williams home with a parade. The Williams family got to lead the parade and were escorted by Wylie High School’s Pure Gold Band’s drumline.
Katie said the opportunity to surprise their children with their dad’s return from a deployment has always been a hope.
“This is the first opportunity we could do this because he usually deploys with his squadron, and everyone knows when they are coming home,” said Katie. “This time he left earlier than his squadron, which allowed him to fly back home earlier and independently.”
Bryan said he was determined to get home on time to pull off the surprises.
“It was a long three days coming home,” he said. “If my flight from Dallas to Abilene was delayed, I was prepared to rent a car.
Katie said the surprise was almost ruined thanks to technology. On Thursday morning, her phone’s calendar synced up to the digital calendar on the kitchen wall, showing information about American Airlines.
“His flight information popped-up on the calendar and Amelia noticed it, but we quickly rushed out the door to get to school,” said Katie. “I erased my whole calendar as soon as I could.”
Maddy had suggested at the beginning of her father’s deployment that “it would be cool” if they surprised them when he returned, said Katie. Maddy’s suggestion become a reality today and now it’s a moment their family will never forget.
By Kristen Johnson