Military dad returns home to SWFL, surprises kids at school

Reporter: Taylor Smith Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Varaly family. Credit: WINK News.

A military father just completed another mission, and he made his next one an effort to surprise his kids at school.

Maj. Varaly is commander of security forces at McDill Air Force Base in Tampa. He was returning home after a recent deployment and decided to surprise his kids at school along the way.

“They had no idea when I was actually coming home,” Varaly said.

“It was a normal day until about second period,” Andrew said. “One of the administration people at my school came in to pull me out of class.”

Varaly and the staff at Palmetto Ridge High School planned everything a nail-biting surprise for Varaly’s son, Andrew.

“Before I walked in, the last question that the assistant principal asked him was supposed to be, What happened on Tuesday?’” Varaly said.

Andrew was on pins and needled — to say the least.

“They made me give them my backpack, and they started looking through it,” Andrew said. “So I thought I was in some serious trouble, and they were asking me a lot of questions, and I didn’t know what they were pertaining too.”

“I was supposed to come in and say I came home on Tuesday, and I couldn’t get it out,” Varaly said.

Then, it was Mackenna’s turn to be surprised by her dad.

“I was in math, and, then, my assistant principal called me to the office for a package, and I was really confused,” Mackenna said. “I immediately hugged him and started crying.”

“I was extremely emotional,” Varaly said.

Varaly explained the sacrifices he and his family make every year and what it means for them all when he gets the time to be home with them.

“We missed every birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, anniversary, first day of school, everything, all of it missed” Varaly said. “So, to come home and put all of that into one moment, it’s sometimes tough.”

This was Varaly’s second deployment. He took his kid’s out of school that day to spend much-needed time together.

Both the Varaly kids said they are happy their dad is home.

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