HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - An Oak Grove senior received quite the surprise at her graduation practice on Thursday.
Leslie Martinez's dad, who was stationed in Afghanistan, showed up to cheer as his daughter was rehearsing on stage. Army Major Juan Martinez embraced his surprised daughter as the emotional moment was caught on camera.
Martinez has served our country for two decades.
"I've been away for almost 7 years of her life," Martinez said. "That's a lot of time to miss. So any time that I get a chance to be here for them, for her and her brothers, I'm gonna do everything I can to be here for them."
His wife, Alma, planned the surprise, and somehow they were able to keep the secret from Leslie.
When she walks across the stage for real and receives her diploma on Saturday, Major Martinez knows, better than most of us, how fortunate his daughter is.
"Being deployed overseas, I've seen that the world is different," Martinez said. "And knowing that she has a great future ahead of her. She has what a lot of kids outside of the United States don't have. It's pretty special."
Martinez will return to Afghanistan in two weeks. He'll be gone until next January.