Soldier surprises daughter at Benton Elementary School - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Soldier surprises daughter at Benton Elementary School

BENTON (WKOW) -- The day started off just like any other for one Wisconsin girl.

Reading, recess, work at the computer lab--the life of a second grader at Benton Elementary School.

Seven-year-old Emma Zinkle had no idea she was the reason cameras came to school on Thursday.

It wasn't until after recess, that it all started to make sense.

There was a knock at the classroom door, and she glanced over to see her dad waiting there for her.

It was the first time she saw him in about a year.

"I was really excited, and I didn't know what to say," Zinkle said.

She froze for a few seconds before launching out of her seat to give her dad a huge hug.

"I love you," he told her.

First Lt. infantry officer Ryan Zinkle left for Kuwait in July with the Army National Guard.

He got back to the U.S. two weeks ago but it wasn't until Wednesday that he knew he'd be the one picking up his daughter from school on Thursday.

Emma talked to her dad as often as possible, but it's not easy with an 8-hour time difference and then a 9-hour difference with Daylight Saving Time.

"What's the most exciting thing about having him home?" we asked Emma.

"We're going to spend time together now," she responded.

"There has always been breaks. I've been gone for months but this was definitely the longest. She kind of just wants me to come home. I'm glad to be back home too," Ryan said.

He says he doesn't know of any scheduled deployments in the near future.

As for Thursday night, he said he and Emma will probably have dinner together and hang out.

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