It was a Memorial Day weekend to remember for one local girl who received a heartwarming surprise from her father that was captured on video.
Trent Shoemaker has served in the U.S. Army for more than 20 years and has been deployed to Iraq and Bosnia. Due to his role as a Flight Operations Specialist based in Jacksonville, Florida, Shoemaker only gets to see his daughter, 9-year-old Zolei, as well as his girlfriend, Jennie Mojica, every few months. Trent made sure his latest reunion with his daughter was a special one however.
“I knew I was gonna surprise her,” Trent said. “She actually thought I was gonna be at work.”
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Jennie had a camera on hand Friday as she and Trent visited Zolei at her new school, Joseph H. Brown Elementary in Philadelphia. The camera rolled as Zolei ran towards her father, cried out “Daddy,” and jumped into his arms. The father and daughter held each other close as tears of joy fell down her face.
“I was really excited because I miss him,” Zolei told NBC10. “I miss him when he’s away but I’m proud of him.”
While Jennie admits there are challenges with Trent being away so often, she is proud of all that he’s done for his family and his country.
“It’s tough because obviously we want him here physically,” Jennie said. “But we understand that what he’s doing isn’t just for us but it’s for everyone.”
It’s an understanding that is especially relevant for the family this Memorial Day Weekend. It’s also something Trent and Jennie hope other families are aware of as they partake in the normal holiday festivities.
“Keep the people who are still in harm’s way in mind,” Trent said. “There are still people out there across the world, still fighting.”
“I’ve learned a lot through him,” Jennie said. “We have to keep in mind that there are soldiers out there putting their life at risk to keep our country safe. I wish he was home more but we’re all safe because of it.”
Trent will head back to work on Monday. But for now, just like the citizens he protects, he’s enjoying Memorial Day Weekend with the people he loves the most.