Colonel Buddy Brook gave daughter Sydney the surprise of her life when he showed up at her high-school dance after a nine-month deployment to the Middle East (Video: WAAY-TV, Huntsville, AL)
As an Army colonel who has served his country for decades, Buddy Brook has had to miss a lot of special family moments, from wedding anniversaries to the birth of two of his grandkids.
But as he was winding down a nine-month deployment to the Middle East earlier this year, there was one event he definitely planned on attending: his 17-year-old daughter Sydney’s high school sorority dance, held on Saturday in the family’s hometown of Florence, Alabama.
And to really make it a night Sydney would never forget, he decided to make his appearance a complete surprise. “My wife, Sharon, and I planned it out: After getting back home from the Middle East the night before, I’d stay in a hotel so Sydney wouldn’t see me,” Brook told Yahoo Parenting.
He and Sharon only let close family and a few other people in on the surprise. “We told the sorority officials beforehand, and the MC, and we arranged for a TV reporter to videotape the dance so we could get Sydney’s reaction on camera.”
After all the careful planning, the night of the dance finally arrived. “Backstage at the dance, before the sisters made their entrance, they played a video message on a big screen that supposedly my dad had sent from Afghanistan,” Sydney tells Yahoo Parenting. “I just teared up, because I missed him and he couldn’t be here.”
Even her date only found out moments beforehand. “We had to ask him to dance with her in a way to keep her back turned, so she wouldn’t see me before I was ready to surprise her,” says Brook.
When the MC announced that the next dance would be a father-daughter dance, Sydney continued to dance with her date, having no idea that her dad was actually in the room. Slowly Brook walked out to the dance floor and tapped Sydney on the shoulder.
“I was in shock, then I gasped and started to cry,” says Sydney. The look of absolute surprise on her face and the cheers and clapping of her sorority sisters shows that this covert operation was a major success.
“I don’t even really remember dancing with him, just hugging him while we moved on the dance floor,” says Sydney.
Adds Brook, “It was a pretty emotional moment for us and for our whole family.” He’s now on a three-week break and spending time with his family before heading back to the Middle East again.
“Sydney hadn’t seen me for nine months, and even though we talked on the phone a lot and did homework assignments together over the computer,” says Brook, “being with her in person was a very special.”