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Military couple surprise children with reunion

Date: 11/14/2012

By Carley Dangona

SPRINGFIELD — At a Veterans Day assembly on Nov. 9 at the Mary Walsh Elementary School, a brother and sister were honored with a surprise reunion with their parents, who are stationed at Fort Polk, La., and haven't been home for six months.

Sgt. 1st Class Eon Phillips and Staff Sgt. Juanita Phillips of the U.S. Army reunited their daughter Trinity and son Zion at the celebration. They arrived late Thursday evening to spend the long weekend with their children.

"It means the world [to be home with them], even if I only had 24 hours," Juanita Phillips said. "We're going to spoil them rotten the next couple days. Not a day goes by that we don't think about them."

The siblings stay with their grandmother Lorraine Velez while their parents are deployed. She explained that the surprise was arranged over the past couple days and that her grandchildren had "no clue."

She added that the family would celebrate Thanksgiving on Sunday since they won't be together on the actual holiday.

The parents expect to be deployed to Afghanistan in August of 2013.

"My daughter enlisted at 17 and she's now 35," Velez said. "She has four years left. Both of them have been to Iraq twice. It's a team effort [raising the children while the parents are away]."