CLEARWATER, Fla. — Imagine not seeing your child for nearly nine months and what it would feel like the moment you got to hold them in your arms again.
That was the case for Army Staff Sergeant Cedric Goins when he returned home to Clearwater, Florida, from a tour in Iraq and Syria.
To make the moment even more special, Goins planned a surprise reunion with his daughter.
As 10-year-old Cailani Goins-Martinez, a McMullen-Booth Elementary School fifth-grader, read a speech to her classmates about veterans, her dad was standing just a few feet away, out of sight.
“She knows I’m back, she doesn’t know I’m here,“ Goins whispered.
As he turned the corner into the cafeteria, Cailani caught a glimpse of her dad, exhaled sharply and ran into his arms. The two shed tears of joy.
The moment was about nine months in the making.
“What’s up, baby? I missed you, “ Goins told his daughter.
Goins' trip home was short and sweet. He flew out to Fort Bragg on Wednesday, but that moment with his little girl is now a memory he’ll cherish forever.
“Her and my relationship are second to none. How I feel is that every daughter needs their dad. So, my goal is to be the best person, alongside her mother, that she has in her life," Goins said with a smile.
“I love him so much and he is like another half of me and one of my most favorite people in the world,“ Cailani added while giving her dad another welcome home hug.
This story was originally published by Sarah Hollenbeck at WFTS.