Navy Lieutenant Surprises Daughters With Homecoming

Related Story

CENTRALIA - Local Navy Lieutenant Frank Tratchel surprised his children at school Friday. Tratchel's three daughters had no idea that he was coming home, almost two months early.

"I didn't expect him to get back until March, so I was a little surprised. I didn't know he was one of the ones that got to come back early." said 18-year-old Megan Tratchel

President Obama announced in October that all troops in Iraq would be home by the end of the year. Tratchel also said that an indeterminable amount of surge troops were going to be sent back as well. The Marine Corp had to pick who was being sent back.

"Got to be one of the lucky individuals," said Tratchel.

Tratchel served in Afghanistan. That is almost a day and half's drive from Iraq. He did two tours there, the most recent one was five months.

Tratchel said, "I wanted to surprise my children. It's been really hard on the kids."

The surprise came during the traditional early morning assembly. Every morning students and Chester Borne Middle School gather together to recite the school's creed, pledge of allegiance, and give announcements to the school.

Principal VInce Matlick introduced 14-year-old Rebecca Tratchel to lead the Pledge of Allegiance and while she focused on that task, her father surprised her. He walked up behind her and tapped her on the shoulder. Rebecca immediately turned around and flew into her father's arms.

Tratchel's oldest daughter was there too, and she didn't know her father was home. She was told she needed to attend the assembly under the premise that her younger sister was getting an award. She filmed the whole exchange on her iPhone and did recognize that it was her father at first.

"I didn't notice him walk up, it took me a second to realize what was really going on."

Once Megan realized what was happening, she walked onto the floor and joined the hug, that Tratchel and Rebecca started.

Megan said, "I thought things like this happened only in movies."

Tratchel later surprised his youngest daughter, who is eight, at lunchtime at her elementary school.