William and Abigail Thomas won’t forget the treat they got this Halloween.
Their father Ben Thomas, who has been deployed overseas for the last 10 months, surprised his children in class with the help of staff at Scott Elementary School and Nelson Middle School.
William, a fifth grader, and Abigail, a seventh grader, both rushed to their feet to embrace their dad.
“It was a lot more emotional than I thought it was going to be,” said Ben Thomas, a captain in the Texas Army National Guard. “You don’t realize the magnitude of all the changes that have taken place until you see them.”
While Thomas served as part of a multinational peacekeeping mission on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, both of his kids grew several inches. Neither wears braces anymore. He missed both of their birthdays. Spring Break. The last day of school. Summer vacation. The first day of school.
“I think this is the first Meet the Teacher Night I’ve missed,” he said.
Thomas credited his wife, Amy, for taking care of their home and family while he was away. In addition, Amy served as the volunteer leader of the Family Readiness Group (FRG) for her husband’s 75-person troop. That involved many conversations with military spouses and parents to ensure every family had the resources and assistance they needed during the deployment.
Technology helped the Thomas family stay in touch. They say they feel fortunate to have a strong support system and to have not dealt with some of the challenges other military families face, such as financial difficulties during a deployment.
“I cannot say enough about the support I have received from the schools – from the teachers to the principals,” Amy Thomas said. “They have just been amazing about keeping an eye on the kids knowing Ben has been gone.”
Ben, who previously served on active duty and works for Caterpillar, is a graduate of the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point. A year ago, he was in South Texas with the National Guard in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
“Even though it takes me away, it is an opportunity for me to contribute,” he said. “I feel like I have something to give back to this country and the state of Texas for the education I received and opportunities that have been given to me.”
Frisco ISD schools will salute current and former servicemen and women during Veterans Day activities beginning next week. It is an opportunity to educate students about the contributions and sacrifices of those who serve or have served the United States in uniform.