PEORIA, AZ - In Mrs. Knapps' second grade math class at Apache Elementary in Peoria, the kids got a lesson they weren't counting on.
Seven-year-old Haylee Fusner had no idea that in the middle of class her father, Marine Jose Fusner would walk in and hug her. Fusner had been serving in Afghanistan and returned home Wednesday morning.
Instead of telling her, he showed up at the school to surprise his little girl. "It was hard keeping the cat in the bag," he said.
Fusner served two tours in Iraq before this most recent one in Afghanistan. He had been gone for several months and Haylee knew his tour was ending, but didn't know for sure when. Her parents felt keeping it a surprise would make for a nice moment for her and also avoid disappointing her if his orders changed.
"It is hard being away," said Fusner as he held his daughter. "But we get through it."
"She is so close to him," said Haylee's mom, Leanne Lunsford.
The school district and teachers kept the secret from the class so it would not ruin the surprise. Even ABC15's cameras played along, pretending to be doing an academic standards story so as not to tip the kids off to what was coming.
Fusner said he is retiring in the coming year and said he will not be deployed again much to Haylee's delight.