Madison County soldier returns from deployment, surprises daughter at school assembly

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - This is a story about Staff Sergeant Brian Hanna's Faith.

WHNT News 19 caught up with him just before he shut himself into a small room in a public building, dressed in uniform. He was nervous, shifting his weight, staring at the door for minutes on end.

After roughly 20 minutes, someone makes their way into the room and gives him the OK. Finally, Hanna edges his way out the door.

And you see what had him so antsy.

It's a packed school gymnasium at Endeavor Elementary. His daughter, Faith, is speaking to hundreds of students.

When she finishes, she turns around, and sees her dad.

She throws herself in his arms.

"It's a very emotional time," Hanna says, "I can't tell you the flood of emotions that happen that go through a soldier's mind when they come home and they see their kid for the first time."

Faith didn't know the real reason for the assembly, "They just told me I was chosen to speak about the seventh habit."

She could sense something special though, "It kind of felt like somebody else was watching me. A little tickling feeling on the back of my neck."

After the assembly and the cheering, there's time for talking and reflecting. Brian and Faith sit across from each other in a quiet room. He shares words with her. They are private. You can tell they are important too.

Both cry.

Both embrace.

Brian has returned to his Faith.

"How it's kind of time to decompress," he says, "And get back into the family life and take it slow and steady this time around."

Staff Sergeant Hanna just completed his fourth deployment.

He says he'll be stateside for a good while now.

Welcome home.