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Naval Officer Gets Hero’s Welcome At His Kids’ School

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Daniel Smigielski, a naval officer, is greeted by students at St. Patrick's School in Wadsworth. (CBS)

Daniel Smigielski, a naval officer, is greeted by students at St. Patrick’s School in Wadsworth. (CBS)

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WADSWORTH, Ill. (CBS) – A Naval officer from far north suburban Wadsworth is home after a 10-month deployment to Afghanistan and surprised his children and their classmates  by making their school his first stop.

Harrison and Maclain Smigielski — 3rd- and 5th-graders at St. Patrick’s — got ushered out of class right after lunch Friday. Principal Marcie Bosnak says they knew their father, Lt. Daniel Smigielski, was returning home.

“But they didn’t know he was going to come here first,” she said. “That really is a surprise for them.”

A fire truck provided the first clue. Then a car appeared with a passenger dressed in camouflage: their father.

“We have a lot of catching up to do, but it means a lot,” Daniel Smigielski as he hugged his two boys.

And the other kids were almost as enthusiastic as they gave the teacher-turned-officer a welcome worthy of a rock star.

Smigielski says he saw the plight of Afghan kids and really appreciates the advantages U.S. students enjoy.

“It took quite a few weeks to travel from Kabul, many nights in a tent, just kind of anticipating coming home,” he said. “I could not have imagined this kind of welcome.”

After the school visit, Lt. Smigielski said he wanted to go home to see the Christmas tree his wife put up. He also wanted to go out for two things he’s been missing: pizza and beer.

He has no immediate plans to return to Afghanistan.

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