• Army dad surprises daughters at pick-up from school after year-long deployment

    immelSgt. 1st Class Eric Immel was able to talk with family just about every day during his yearlong deployment in Egypt with the U.S. Army. He said he would use Zoom to connect with the people he loved most, including his daughters Hadley and Rylie.

    However, the combat medic said he used the “poor internet excuse” as a reason he couldn’t virtually see them leading up to his homecoming. It was all part of a plan to surprise the girls on Jan. 13 when he picked them up early from school at Benner Elementary. Hadley is a third-grade student in Jamie Beard’s class and Rylie is a kindergartener in Heather Snedden’s class.

    “I’m excited and surprised and so happy,” Rylie said enthusiastically. Her older sister just said she was “speechless” while trying to catch her breath from the tear-filled surprise.

    Immel spent 361 days in the Middle Eastern country while serving with the Multinational Force and Observers, and overseeing an aid station in the north part of the Sinia Peninsula. According to its website, the MFO is an international peacekeeping force that oversees the terms of the peace treaty among Egypt and Israel.

    “I was going to Egypt thinking I was going to see the pyramids and stuff, and it didn’t work out the way I anticipated, but that’s OK,” he said, adding that he’s glad to be home, but was “nervous” about how his daughters would react to seeing him in-person for the first time in a long time.

    They agreed it was the best day ever, as they hugged their dad.

    Immel will be back home with his family in the Bellefonte area for about five weeks before heading to his next duty station in South Carolina.

    *By Brit Milazzo, public relations director, BASD