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Millersville Elementary School 5th grade student Kaylee Post was surprised during her lunch period by her Army mother, Brianna Post-Burkholder.

A fifth grader at Millersville Elementary School expected a normal lunch on Thursday afternoon, turning to her friends and giggling over ice cream when the speakerphone came on and a question ricocheted through the cafeteria: “Kaylee Post, would you have lunch with me?”

When Kaylee Post turned in her seat she saw her mother, Brianna Post-Burkholder, walk through the cafeteria doors adorned in her Army uniform. The young girl jumped and ran into her mother’s arms.

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Kaylee, her stepfather Eddie Burkholder, and other family members have not seen Post-Burkholder since February this year and have counted down the days with the aid of a calendar at home. Post-Burkholder was deployed to Afghanistan to serve in the U.S. Army.

Along with Kaylee’s stepfather, Eddie Burkholder, the family counted the days until they were reunited once more. But Kaylee did not know her mother was already on a plane heading home.

“It was pretty hard — the longest I have been away from them was probably about a month for military service training,” Post-Burkholder said.

The surprise school visit took teamwork between Burkholder and Millersville’s administration, teachers and counselor. Burkholder explained that he has been planning for a month and had some idea of when Post-Burkholder would arrive but was not given specific details until 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Kaylee has not seen her mother since February this year and her family has counted down the days with the aid of a...

Posted by The Capital on Thursday, November 14, 2019

Post-Burkholder said following a formation, officials surprised servicemembers with the plane tickets for the next day.

From there, she spent nearly 24 hours traveling back home to her family. Kaylee was under the impression her mother would be back home for Christmas and joked with her stepfather that she could unwrap Post-Burkholder for her gift this year.

“There are no words to describe it,” Kaylee said after her mother sat down at the lunch table. “I thought I was dreaming.”

Each time Post-Burkholder or her daughter made eye contact the two would smile, the distance between one another no longer separated by oceans and countries but now side-by-side. Behind them, Burkholder filmed the interactions with tears in his eyes.

Though he said he’s been planning this since the day Post-Burkholder left, he still did not know what to say.

“My emotions are so high, I think I was having a harder time holding it together than she was,” he said.

Millersville Elementary School 5th grade student Kaylee Post was surprised during her lunch period by her mother, Brianna Post-Burkholder, who had just returned from a U.S. Army deployment in Afghanistan.
Millersville Elementary School 5th grade student Kaylee Post was surprised during her lunch period by her mother, Brianna Post-Burkholder, who had just returned from a U.S. Army deployment in Afghanistan. (Paul W. Gillespie/Capital Gazette)

Assistant Principal Amy Worrall said after she was approached by the father, she didn’t question it. She helped pick out the music and the plan to have the surprise happen over the cafeteria’s speaker system.

“I wanted to make it as special as she is to us, Kaylee has been a member of our Millersville family for a long time,” Worrall said. “We knew that Mom was overseas and we knew that homecoming was pending so we wanted to celebrate.”

The last time the family was all together before Post-Burkholder was deployed also happened to be her birthday.

They celebrated it over breakfast, and now the family is reunited before the holiday season. Post-Burkholder predicts she will be home through the holidays until next year.

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So for now?

“We’ll probably go get pedicures or something,” she said with a smile.

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