Tri-State Soldier Comes Home, Surprises Little Sister


After spending time serving our country in the deserts of Dubai, a Tri-State soldier comes home and surprises his little sister in front of her classmates. Their emotional reunion, due in large part to the school’s elaborate and confidential plan, brought teachers to tears and left students speechless.

The senior airman won’t be home long but you better believe they’re going to make the most of every moment.

Jordan Vandenberge has their emotional reunion and the elaborate operation that made it all possible.


For elementary school students, recess is often the most sought after time in the school day. But for Hannah Fehlinger, a fifth grader at Sharon Elementary in Warrick County, it’s not a time to play.

It’s a time to help her teacher Ms. Watson.

“Going outside for recess isn’t as fun anymore to me,” Fehlinger said. “I’d rather be in here or helping in the library.”

Helping her teacher is something she does willingly. The candy she receives in return is just an added bonus, Hannah said.

The candy her teacher gives Hannah is just an added bonus. She sifted through papers and then sorted through books, but here in the classroom with her two best friends, there’s nowhere else she’d rather be.

“I want to be a marine biologist,” Fehrlinger said. “I like animals and I really like dolphins and fish.”

It’s hard to keep Hannah in one spot for long; she is full of the playful kind of energy. However, on the first floor of the school, anxiously pacing back and forth in a secluded breezeway, her brother Tyler was full of the nervous kind of energy.

“I was [serving in the Air Force] in Dubai for seven or eight months,” Tyler Fehlinger said. He hasn’t seen his baby sister Hannah in two years. “There won’t be tears from me but she’s going to have tears. Hopefully she doesn’t pass out. If she does, I’l try to catch her but nothing is fool proof.”

We all know where this story is going.

But Hannah didn’t.

The entire entire school filled the gym for the holiday assembly. The principal started the gathering off with an announcement. Hannah was honored with the principal’s ‘Caught Being Good’ distinction for her citizenship and willingness to help her teachers and fellow students.

Hannah was then caught by surprise.

With Hannah’s back turned, Tyler crept onto the gymnasium floor. The crowd began to gasp. Hannah turned around, gasped and then jumped into her older brother’s arms.

The crowd began to cheer and then gave Tyler, a senior airman, a standing ovation. It was the kind of moment that brought teachers to tears and left many students speechless, including Hannah.

“I still don’t know if this is a dream or not,” Hannah Fehlinger said.

“It made my heart stop a little, just knowing how she’s going to feel and how I’m going to feel when I get to hold her again,” Tyler Fehlinger said. “The longer you wait, the better the meeting will be. And it was.”

Papers will need to be shuffled and books will need to be stacked. All of that, however, will have to wait. After two years, Hannah now has to help welcome her brother home.

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