Updated:CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. —
A local military father traveled halfway around the world to surprise his daughter at graduation. She didn't know he was there until he appeared as she walked down the aisle.
"She had no idea that I was able to make it because the whole time, we didn't know for sure. But everything just worked out" Army Sgt. 1st Class Dedrick Clark told Channel 2's Eric Philips
As the Lovejoy High School graduates marched into the Georgia Dome Friday evening, none of them knew that Clark was backstage waiting for the big moment – especially not his daughter, Dia.
Clark has been in Kuwait for nine months and got special permission from his chain of command to attend his daughter's commencement. Only his wife, the school principal and military personnel knew about this operation to surprise Dia. She graduated fourth in her class.
"She was sad and everything and I told her, 'Cheer up. This is her day,"' Clark told the teen on the phone. "I said all things come to those who wait."
Then her name was called to receive her diploma, and her father appeared on stage.
"I didn't think he was able to make it, because he told me he couldn't make it. And then when I saw him, I felt great," said Dia, holding back tears.
"He's one of the main people I wanted here. He's been my biggest fan, my biggest supporter through everything and I'm so glad he made it, and I love him," she said.
The 23-year veteran has to return to Kuwait next week, but until then, he plans on spending a lot of time with his family, especially his new graduate.