Army sergeant surprises first grader for temporary homecoming at Arab Primary School

Northeast Alabama

ARAB, Ala. — A 7-year-old Arab Primary School student who has been missing his father is getting the surprise of a lifetime.

Teachers describe first grader Tatum Kilgo as a shy, good kid.

During severe weather, his class is learning math and even coloring flags.

Flags represent a little more for young Tatum. His dad is a United States Army sergeant and has been gone for seven months.

“I miss him so much that I just want him to come home,” Tatum told News 19 Tuesday afternoon.

School was cut short to 12:30 p.m. due to potential severe storms Tuesday. He expected his mom to pick him up, but she was running late. That’s because she had just picked up a surprise gift for him at the airport: his father.

Sgt. Jonathan Kilgo walked into the classroom and asked, “What’s up buddy?”

Tatum shouted, “Daddy” and hugged him tightly before being lifted into his father’s arms.

Sgt. Kilgo is halfway between a year long job away from home, but still within the continental United States.

It was a happy surprise for the first grader, who’s proven to be so strong while his dad has been away.

“He’s the man of the house while I’m gone. He’s my best friend. If it’s a mile or if it’s a thousand, it’s the same to them,” explained Sgt. Kilgo.

“I just missed you so much,” Tatum said crying and hugging his dad’s legs during an interview with News 19.

Sgt. Kilgo told News 19 that even though he gets to speak to his family every night, it is different being able to see and touch them.

“I’ve been to a lot of places all over the world and he was three the last time so it’s hard for him to probably even remember it but he was the only one last time and now we got three of them,” said Sgt. Kilgo. “I always have a brave face and I think I’m not going to be nervous, but standing here just waiting to see my best friend after seven months, I had butterflies, like my arms were numb.”

“I was missing him like a lot, and I just love him. I love you,” Tatum told his dad as they hugged.

The school is giving Tatum a few days off to spend with his dad for the six days he is home.

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