PEORIA, Ariz. -- An amazing surprise took place Wednesday for a Peoria second grader. She had no idea her father, a U.S. Marine, had returned from Afghanistan until he unexpectedly walked into her classroom.
Gunnery Sgt. Jose Fusner has been deployed twice before to Iraq. But this deployment to Afghanistan felt longer for 7-year-old Haylee Fusner not only because she's older now and more aware, but because her dad was injured on his last deployment.
“I can't explain how hard it is when you have a little one and try to explain where he is, what he's doing, and the other kids tell her daddy is at war. It’s just really hard,” said Haylee’s mom, Leanne Lunsford. “She knew something happened last time and it could happen again so I tried to console her, but a song would come on and she'd start to cry. It was just so hard to console her.”
So Wednesday’s surprise homecoming was especially sweet, leaving Haylee utterly speechless.
“It is always difficult being away from home, but you just get through it day by day, but I’m back now,” said Sgt. Fusner, who was deployed with the 3rd Civil Affairs Unit out of Camp Pendleton to Afghanistan.
Fortunately, this deployment was cut short.
“Did you have any idea he was coming home? No, well not today I had no idea today,” said Haylee.
“She didn't have a definitive time or date. She was thinking November, which was my original time to come back,” said Sgt. Fusner.
And Haylee's mom thought it was important not to get anyone's hopes up.
“I know from his previous deployments being told when he's coming home, and then 'oh no not that date but this date.' I just didn't want her to be disappointed or let down because they are very, very close,” said Lunsford.
And as far as this daddy ever being deployed again, Haylee’s said her best surprise was the fact her Dad is retiring and is now home for good.