Local military family celebrates emotional homecoming

IOLA, Tex. (KBTX) - Iola ISD held a pep rally Friday ahead of its homecoming game. For one family, it was a special kind of homecoming.

U.S. Army Captain Kristen Tharp has been serving our country for 17 years. After 10 months overseas, she wanted to do something special when she reunited with her 10-year-old daughter London.

She worked with her daughter’s school to set up a surprise on Friday afternoon. Tharp slipped into a big black box and had the cheerleaders walk her into the pep rally. The school played the game “who is in the box” and asked multiple kids who they thought was inside.

Once the microphone got to London, she didn’t have a clue. So the cheerleaders walked her up to the box and out popped her mother.
There was not a dry eye in the room when the two embraced for the first time in almost a year.

"I felt really happy, and I just I can’t explain it,” said London.

“I was excited, kind of nervous, but so excited,” said Tharp.

They were brought back together after years of deployments, missed holidays and birthdays.

"It’s not necessarily about the parties,” said Tharp. “It’s about the little everyday things, like taking them to school, picking them up from school and their games and that's the stuff you miss."

London says the first thing she wants to do with her mom is to go to the movie theaters to see a Halloween movie.