Southington Soldier Surprises Daughter in Emotional Return Home
Southington High School freshman Jasmyne Engman thought her class was going to hear from veterans, but she was in awe when her step-father, Army Staff Sgt. Mike Howes, walked in the room without notice after nine months away.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Mike Howes has been dedicated to his job, serving four tours of duty and spending nearly five years away from his family, but he showed on Monday that his daughters are just as important to him as anything in his life, surprising them in an emotional return after his latest deployment to Africa.
Joined by veterans from town, who went to Southington High School Monday morning under the guise that they would be speaking to his step-daughter Jasmyne Engman’s ninth-grade civics class, he entered the room after the “guest speakers” took their place and drew a large round of applause from the class – and a gasp and tears of joy from Engman.
“This was definitely the best day ever,” Engman said. “It took a minute when he walked through the door for me to realize what was going on and when I did, I ran to him and thought I was going to tackle him.”
Howes, a 1994 Southington High School graduate himself, had returned on Saturday following a nine-month deployment to Djibouti, Africa, but he hid away in a hotel with the help of his wife, Izabela Howes, as he hoped to surprise his daughters. It was the Southington native’s fourth tour, having previously been deployed to Iraq twice and Kosovo.
The dedicated serviceman and his wife said he is very close with his daughters – they planned to surprise his third-grade daughter Madison Howes at Flanders Elementary later in the day – and with four tours done and this his last one, said they wanted to do something special for them.
“They’ve been such troopers through everything,” he said. “This is a once in a lifetime thing and it’s something we’ll never forget.”
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