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The Aegis
Harford County

Military dad returns from overseas to deliver big surprise to his three kids at Hickory Elementary School

Three Hickory Elementary School students got the surprise of a lifetime Thursday morning when their father, Sergeant Steven Hartnett, a member of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, showed up at the school after an 11-month deployment in Egypt.

Wearing the school’s mascot costume, Sylvester the squirrel, Hartnett was guided into the cafeteria by Principal Brad Stinar, where Sylvester was introduced for ”Squirrel Appreciation Day” at the school. Hartnett walked around the room and gave a few high fives to the students.

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Then the principal called over Hartnett’s oldest child, third-grader SJ, and asked if he wanted to get a photo with Sylvester, his mom Diana, who volunteers at the school, and siblings, twins Eric and Emily, who are in kindergarten. The family posed for a few photos, and while mom kept the children focused on the camera, Hartnett removed the costume head.

Diana Hartnett was in on the surprise with her husband, with the support of Stinar and school staff.

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Hartnett’s deployment was originally scheduled for 12 months, but he was able to return home a month early.


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