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Eric Glesne, a specialist in the U.S. Army, left, has lunch Thursday with his son, Daegan, at Kennedy Elementary School. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

Soldier dad home on leave surprises his 7-year-old son while at school

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WILLMAR -- Daegan Glesne was expecting to have his grandpa come to school for lunch on Thursday.

When he saw two men standing in the hall near the Kennedy Elementary School office, Daegan went straight to his grandpa and gave him a hug, walking past a slender man dressed in military fatigues.

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Marvin Glesne smiled and turned the 7-year-old around and pointed at the other guy.

"Daddy," Daegan shouted as he threw himself into the arms of his father, Spc. Eric Glesne.

Glesne is home for a two-week leave from serving with the Minnesota National Guard 1st Battalion, 151st Field Artillery, out of Olivia. The unit is based in Kuwait and carries out convoy missions into Iraq.

Daegan wrapped his arms around his dad's neck and his legs around his waist as Eric Glesne held him close.

"His dad's the most important person in his life," Marvin Glesne said as he watched.

School staff members who witnessed the scene were touched as they watched the father and the second-grader compare their new haircuts.

Social worker Sara Jacobson, who knows the family, wiped away tears. "I'm just so excited for him," he said.

By the time the trio had their lunch, Daegan was talking a mile a minute in his excitement.

"I'm very happy," he said.

His dad said he arrived in the United States on Wednesday.

"How come you didn't want to call me," Daegan asked.

"Because I wanted to surprise you," his dad answered.

Eric Glesne said he doesn't have specific plans for his two weeks at home, except "spend as much time with him as I can."

Daegan said his dad can be pretty good at surprises, but this surprise "was the sneakiest I've ever seen him."

Kennedy Principal Scott Hisken said he was happy for Daegan and his dad.

"This is the second time we've had a surprise like that," he said.

The surprise came just in time for Kennedy's salute to veterans. A steady stream of veterans arrived at the school to eat lunch with young relatives or friends. The veterans were men and women of all ages and from all branches of the service.

"It's a special time," Hisken said. "It means a lot to the staff and students."

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Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

(320) 214-4340
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