TAMPA (WFLA) – It started out like any other day for three Tampa siblings – going to school, watching a show in the theater – and then SURPRISE.
Air Force Master Sgt. Marquese Hayden went to see his seventh-grader Tahja first. He appeared on the stage as the curtain opened at Orange Grove Middle Magnet.
It took a moment for his daughter to understand what she was seeing and then ran to him, hugged and cried.
“I thought I was hallucinating,” said Tahja Hayden.
“Oh man, it [the hug] was the best. That is my little princess,” said Sgt. Hayden.
Next, was a visit to his son Tahj at Robinson High School, The freshman was called down to the office where his dad was waiting to surprise him.
There was a long hug followed by a lot of tears. “I wasn’t expecting this. I thought it would be later on in the month. I think it is the best one that he has done since his first time,” said Tahj Hayden.
“The one thing that I have learned during these last six months, is family time is very valuable to me and the older I get, the more I realize that. So I am definitely going to spend more quality time with all my kids and my wife,” said Sgt. Hayden.
Sgt. Hayden’s wife Tia is proud to have her hero back at home and is ready for some much-needed family time.
“Just sitting around watching TV. I got some steaks about to hit the grill. So just family time. We are cutting off cellphones. We are just going to be selfish. We are going to be selfish for a few days,” said Tia Hayden.
After the visit to Robinson high, the Hayden family went to Tinker K-8 to surprise their son Maddex. Media wasn’t allowed since the school is located on the base.
Hayden had been deployed for about six months. The kids had no idea dad was coming home Thursday.