A Very Special Day for a Benjamin Franklin Elementary School Second Grader

A class of reading and learning in the school library turned into a very special day this week for a second grader at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School.  Unknown to him, his father, Specialist Chris Larkin, flew into New York on Thursday from Texas and headed straight to the school located in Shrub Oak. Having recently returned from a year away on a tour of duty with the U.S. Army National Guard in the Middle East, he knew where he wanted to go first.

Working with the school and his son’s 2nd grade teacher, Kathleen Nash, via email for several weeks, Specialist Larkin had set up the surprise visit. Slipping unseen into the school’s library, the school’s principal appeared in front of Sean with a large sign reading Welcome Home. The slightly confused 2nd grader was then told to look behind him. When he turned around, the initial shock was quickly followed by a run and leap into his father’s arms and a long hug while his classmates and staff cheered. Also on hand to greet the returning serviceman were his wife and brother. Larkin thanked his commanders for helping to make his surprise happen sooner than he originally expected.

Larkin had returned from his nine-month deployment in the Middle East a few days ago. He was one of three hundred members of the New York Army National Guard's 101st Expeditionary Signal Battalion which is headquartered in Yonkers and has elements in Peekskill and Orangeburg, who returned to New York recently.

The soldiers returned to Fort Hood, Texas from Kuwait on Jan. 25, 2019 and began returning home on January 30 after out-processing at Fort Hood. The unit had left the Hudson Valley from Stewart Air National Guard Base last March 17. They trained for 45-days before deploying to the Middle East.

The Soldiers are returning to New York in small groups at airports closest to their homes. The 101st Expeditionary Signal Battalion provides communications support to military units across large distances using satellite communications technology.

Benjamin Franklin ES is one of five elementary schools in the Lakeland Central School District.