Father returns from overseas, surprises suburban boy at school assembly

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AURORA, Ill. – There was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a third grader in Aurora today.

Ms. Miginity's third grade class shuffled into the gym for a noon assembly to highlight volunteers in the community.  Among the students, was 9-year-old Nathan Bautista who listened intently with no idea what the assembly was really all about.

His father, Air Force Staff Sgt Alex Bautista, has been overseas from the better part of a year.

And today, he starred in the surprise holiday homecoming.

“I was really shocked,” Nathan said.

Nathan was shocked to see his father in fatigues, standing in his school, instead of standing guard a world away.

“I was overcome with emotions,” Staff Sgt Bautista said.

He joined the U.S. Air Force 11 years ago, and for the last eight months the native Chicagoan has been stationed at Osan Air Base in South Korea, a region riveted by nuclear tension.

“I just take it day-to-day. I talk to them every day just to relieve the stress. I hear their voices and it makes everything alright,” he said.

Being away from home, he says, takes a toll on family.

“I think that`s the hardest part of the military,” he said.

But this year, he won't be missing Christmas.

“This was really amazing,” Nathan said. “I actually thought if I don`t get any gifts, this will be the best gift I ever had.”

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