Returning Marines surprise their children at school

TOWN OF HARRISON – An area family is back in each other’s arms for the first time in months.

They were reunited during a surprise ceremony at a Kimberly district elementary school Tuesday.

Jo and Shane Moody, both active duty Marines, had been deployed since June. Their four children spent the last eight months with grandparents in Menasha.

Sometimes the wait is worth the payoff.

“I was very nervous actually,” said Jo Moody.

“The last 30 minutes of waiting was harder than the entire last eight months,” said her husband Shane.

And when they came into the library of Woodland Elementary School in the Town of Harrison Tuesday, their children saw them and shouted…”Mom and dad!”

For Jo deployed to Afghanistan and Shane around the states to train troops leaving for deployment, the last eight months away from their children were trying.

“It was more difficult for myself being deployed than for when he was, because I never had to leave them before, so it was very hard to leave them for that long of a period of time,” said Jo.

But that is now a memory, replaced by the open arms and warm hugs of Jonathan, Josemite, Justice and Jade who have been staying with their grandparents in Menasha. Hugs, Shane Moody says he couldn’t wait to have.

“It’s a tearjerker, it’s extremely hard not to get emotional when you walk in there and you don’t want to be the guy that is bawling in front of everybody, but yeah it starts pulling on the heartstrings,” said Shane.

Staff at Woodland school set up the surprise by creating a guest reader program. The guest reader was the Moody’s grandfather. He read a story to the children’s classes in the school library before the real surprise came out.

“When we knew it was a go, we brainstormed last night and decided it would be a good idea to maximize talking about reading and the kids would believe it because that is our big message about appreciating reading and it worked,” said Assistant Principal Erin Loritz.

Planning for the event came together in less than a day and Jo Moody says having it during a reading event here at the school was a perfect surprise.

“The U.S.O. has a great reading with children program, so I would do that constantly so they could at least see me while I was reading a book to them and that was one way I was able to keep in contact with them.”

“She sent it to us with the books and we would watch the video and read the book while she was doing the video,” said nine-year-old Jonathan.

And it’s those kind of activities Jonathan says he’s excited to do with his mom and dad, in person.

“What are you most looking forward to? Spending more time with them. Yeah, that will be pretty nice huh? Yeah.”

Now that their family is together again.

Both of the Moody’s are stationed in North Carolina. They say they’ll be returning there with their children Friday.