- Associated Press - Thursday, March 5, 2015

BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) - A surprise reunion awaited a Burlington first-grade student at a not-so-typical school assembly.

The Burlington Hawk Eye (https://bit.ly/1GnwElX ) reports that Andy Deuitch, who had returned home from serving in Afghanistan, surprised his son Tanton Welborn at school Wednesday.

When Welborn joined the rest of the student body and their mascot Dragon Do-Right to sing in the school gymnasium, he was unaware that the man in the mascot’s costume was his father. During the song, Deuitch removed the head of the dragon suit and hugged his son. The crowd gave a standing ovation.

“It was my wife who actually set this up,” Deuitch said. “She got ahold of (first grade teacher) Ms. (Jamie) Sparrow during Veterans Day because my son hung out with one of her family members who was a World War II veteran, and they just got it all worked out.”

Welborn said he was, “surprised a lot” and that he was “very happy” to see his father again. Deuitch’s daughter also attended the assembly.

Principal Phil Noonan said that the reunion was good for the students to see.

“It’s just a real good connection, and I think it’s a part of community building, showing kids why it’s important to be a good citizen and a leader,” Noonan said. “Now, I think we are really seeing some patriotism in our country, which we badly need.”

Deuitch has been with the Army Reserves for the past nine years, and has served in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan.

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Information from: The Hawk Eye, https://www.thehawkeye.com

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