• Army chief surprises daughter at Atlanta elementary school after 6 months overseas

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    HENRY COUNTY, Ga. - A Henry County fourth grader said she has missed her father badly over the past six months during his military deployment overseas.

    She told Channel 2 Action News she’s cried herself to sleep many times thinking of him.

    “When I’m alone with my mom, and I really want my dad beside me ... I cry myself to sleep those nights,” Aaliyah Benjamin said. “Then I still think about him when I’m sleeping, and then when I wake up, I still think about him at school, and that’s how I don’t concentrate.”

    Her tears turned into tears of joy Friday when her father, U.S. Army Chief Andrew Benjamin, surprised her at Ola Elementary School after returning home. 


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    “It’s a joy and a pleasure to actually be here and actually be in person and actually hold my daughter, hold my wife (and) see my family,” he told Channel 2.

    Two of the school’s fourth grade classes were told to meet in the media center for a surprise mystery reader, the Henry County School District said in a news release. However, they didn’t know Benjamin would make an appearance.

    As soon as she saw her father, Aaliyah ran and jumped into his arms.

    “It was a hug because I almost cried,” she told Channel 2. “He came to my school, and I haven’t seen him in a long time.”

    For the Benjamin family, this will also be the last reunion like this. Benjamin is retiring soon from the military, the district said.

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