News 12 at 11 o'clock/ Thursday, Dec. 19th, 2013
AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW) -- It didn't come in a box or a under a tree, but Thursday a second grader got the biggest present on her list.
It was all smiles and tears at Millbrook Elementary School in Aiken as a soldier surprised his daughter after his nine month deployment.
It was the last day of school before Christmas break and Mrs. Hughes second grade class was anxiously awaiting their guest reader.
Sgt. Timothy Spondike is anxiously waiting as well, to see his daughter Haley for the first time since February.
"Anticipation has been building," said Sgt. Spondike. "We were in country about 9 months. We were deployed to Afghanistan."
It's Sgt. Spondike's 3rd deployment and the most difficult. "This has definitely been the toughest. Knowing that I have little children here that are looking forward to me coming home," he said.
It was the most difficult for Haley too. "I was also deployed to Afghanistan 2007-2008 so I don't think she quite remembers that so this one's gonna be a little different for her," he explained.
It all ended in her classroom around noon as she sat reading her book. It's a moment the second grader's been waiting for for 10 months as she saw her dad walk through the door.
A smile on her face she ran and jumped in her dad's arms. He said, " It's hard to put emotions like that into words."
There were tears from both daughter and father as they hugged tightly.
"It was very happy. I was very happy to see her. I was happy to see her smiling," said Sgt. Spondike.
They say it's a Christmas wish come true. "Probably the best ever to be fortunate and blessed enough to be able to be home," he said.
Sgt. Spondike also had a baby boy two days after he left for Afghanistan. He got home Monday and spent the first few days getting to know his new son and says they are very excited for their first Christmas all together.