Father returns from deployment to surprise daughter at graduatio - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Father returns from deployment to surprise daughter at graduation


Like Christmas or Thanksgiving, graduation day brings everyone together. Or at least it's supposed to.

Abby Tolar's dad, Maj. Brian Tolar, was left out of some big moments this year. He's been overseas for a year with the Army National Guard. He was supposed to be home Wednesday.

Abby and her mom thought the Major would miss graduation by less than an hour.

"It's like ships that pass in the night," said Ann Tolar. "It was, almost."

Almost wasn't good enough for family friend and veteran Jim Null.

"We got him in by air yesterday, at 2 o'clock," said Null.

Null helped organize and smuggle the Major to the Carolina Coliseum where he dropped in on a daughter who was graduating from Spring Valley High School on Wednesday.

A year of deployment meant a lot of missed milestones.  

"I ran for homecoming queen this year," said Abby. "He couldn't be there to escort me on the field."

"It was heartbreaking," said Maj. Tolar. "Those are the moments you really cherish and the good moments you want to be around when you're a parent. It's hard."

After months of secrecy, the plan came together Wednesday.

"We actually started talking about it six or seven months ago, Mr. Null and I," said Maj. Tolar. "He brought the idea to me and started scheming then."

"I've made a lot of deployments," said Null. "I have a beautiful daughter. It brought back some memories."

And it brought dad back into a picture he'd missed for too long.

"It was already an exciting day but this just makes it even better," said Abby.

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