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Inland Empire dad surprises kids after Navy deployment

April 26, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
For Navy Lt. Commander Lionel Hines, who just returned from deployment late Thursday night, there was one more covert mission for him: Staying out of sight at French Valley Elementary School in Winchester to surprise his two kids.

"They are everything to me, and I can't wait to squeeze them as hard as I can," Hines said.

The assembly started just after 9 a.m. For 6- and 7-year-old Mason and Lichele Hines, it was already going to be a big day. They were set to sing the national anthem from memory all by themselves.

During the applause, dad walked out from the crowd. At first, the children looked shocked, but then they quickly realized that after being gone for an entire year serving in a classified mission in Cape Horn South America, their dad was finally home.

"I wanted to run to them faster than they were running to me," Hines said. "I was trying to keep it under composure, but I was just so excited to hold them once again."

For Hines' wife, it's been a difficult 12 months. Not only was she apart from her husband, but her mother and father both died this year. With so much for her to cope with, it's been even tougher on the kids.

"I thought, gosh, they need something," said Michelle Horton. "They need a surprise because I actually wasn't going to do anything, it was going a quiet homecoming, and then I said, 'They need this.'"


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