Saturday, February 24, 2018
Military News

Army dad returns from war, surprises daughter at Dunedin Elementary

DUNEDIN

Her head turned. She paused a moment, her eyes registering. A smile quickly slid across her face.

Seconds later, 9-year-old Trista Sarles-Redfield was up from the reading mat in her Dunedin Elementary classroom and wrapping her arms around her father, Army Maj. Jerry Bud Redfield, while her fourth-grade teacher, classmates and camera-ready reporters and school personnel looked on.

Home early from a yearlong tour in Afghanistan, Jerry surprised Trista at school Thursday morning.

The 37-year-old Army infantry officer and Afghanistan/Pakistan leadership liaison hugged the girl close before handing her a half-dozen roses. Pink, her favorite color.

"I missed you," Trista said, unearthing her face from his embrace to look up at him.

Trista had been expecting her dad home Friday. But in between the weekly phone calls, monthly Skype video chats and regular letters, Jerry had been devising a plan to surprise both Trista and her mother, Amanda Redfield.

The plan was partially derailed when an emergency prevented a friend from picking him up at Tampa International Airport about 11 p.m. Wednesday. Jerry had to call Amanda for a ride.

His wife and mother-in-law, now both in on the secret, sneaked him into their Clearwater home, past their cat and two dogs, while Trista slept.

For nearly two hours Thursday morning, Jerry hid in his bedroom closet with a book while Trista flitted about the house getting ready for school.

Hours later, Amanda watched Trista fight back tears during the reunion with the man who has formed a strong bond with Trista over the last five years, even though he is not her biological father. A "devastated" Trista had cried for three months after her father left, Amanda said, and each day after that asked when he'd return.

"He's not a talkative person at all, but when it comes to those two, they talk all the time," said Amanda, 35. "They have their own little secrets and codes for things. The only thing she asked Santa for was her daddy and we had to explain that would make him AWOL — it's breaking the law."

Amanda hung back Thursday while Jerry and Trista headed to the school cafeteria for an early lunch.

After all, the duo had a long list of activities to plan: Going to the movies. Playing the board game Risk. Taking Trista, who grew 4 inches while her father was away, for her first roller-coaster ride on SheiKra — something she refused to do without daddy.

With roughly 16 months before his next deployment, Redfield said he's looking forward to one thing the most: "Seeing her grow up."

Keyonna Summers can be reached at (727) 445-4153 or [email protected]

Comments
Iraqi general who helped defeat ISIS returns to Tampa for commando award

Iraqi general who helped defeat ISIS returns to Tampa for commando award

PALM HARBOR — Four years ago, during a visit to Tampa, Iraqi Staff Gen. Talib Shgati Mshari Al Kenani issued a warning to military leaders here about a jihadi group calling itself the Islamic State.This week, Al Kenani, head of the Iraqi commando for...
Published: 02/23/18
Howard Altman: Expert from Lutz finds U.S. ill prepared for conflict in Korea

Howard Altman: Expert from Lutz finds U.S. ill prepared for conflict in Korea

Rick Lamb, who spent a good part of the past two years in South Korea assessing the state of U.S. forces on the peninsula, was taken aback by what he discovered."Overall, I was surprised how much it atrophied," said Lamb, a retired Army Ranger comman...
Published: 02/21/18
Updated: 02/22/18
Syria’s starved, rebellious suburb under attack

Syria’s starved, rebellious suburb under attack

BEIRUT — The airstrikes came at a rate of one a minute, with horrible results: civilians fleeing collapsing buildings, children trapped under slabs of concrete, paramedics grimly rushing the bloodied victims away on stretchers. At least 100 people we...
Published: 02/20/18
Global commandos flock to Palm Harbor to discuss future of Special Operations

Global commandos flock to Palm Harbor to discuss future of Special Operations

Commando leaders from around the globe are coming to Pinellas County this week to discuss common threats in an increasingly unstable world.Most European Union members "are either growing or reinforcing" their special operations forces, French Maj. Ge...
Published: 02/20/18
Global commandos flock to Palm Harbor to discuss future of Special Operations

Global commandos flock to Palm Harbor to discuss future of Special Operations

Commando leaders from around the globe are coming to Pinellas County this week to discuss common threats in an increasingly unstable world.Most European Union members "are either growing or reinforcing" their special operations forces, French Maj. Ge...
Published: 02/20/18
ISIS ambush kills at least 27 Iraqi Shiite-led fighters

ISIS ambush kills at least 27 Iraqi Shiite-led fighters

BAGHDAD — Islamic State militants ambushed a group of Iraq’s Shiite-led paramilitary fighters, killing at least 27, more than two months after Baghdad declared victory over the extremist group, officials said Monday The Popular Mobilization Forces, a...
Published: 02/19/18
Planning begins for Warrior Games coming to Tampa in 2019

Planning begins for Warrior Games coming to Tampa in 2019

TAMPA — Army Gen. Raymond A. "Tony" Thomas III, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, had a court-side epiphany last July at the United Center in Chicago while watching the annual Department of Defense Warrior Games. So impressed w...
Published: 02/19/18
Howard Altman: Later AirFest good for fundraising

Howard Altman: Later AirFest good for fundraising

On May 12 and 13, the skies above MacDill Air Force Base will be busier than usual, with Navy F-18s, Air Force F-22s and A-10s and a host of civilian stunt pilots performing impressive feats of aerobatics.It’s all part of the semi-regular Tampa Bay C...
Published: 02/16/18
VA chief Shulkin, staff misled ethics officials about European trip, report finds

VA chief Shulkin, staff misled ethics officials about European trip, report finds

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin’s chief of staff doctored an email and made false statements to create a pretext for taxpayers to cover expenses for the secretary’s wife on a 10-day trip to Europe last summer, the agency’s inspector general ...
Published: 02/14/18
Trump seeks 11 percent SOCom budget increase

Trump seeks 11 percent SOCom budget increase

President Donald Trump’s proposed military budget includes a nearly 11 percent spending increase for U.S. Special Operations Command headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base.The measure, if approved by Congress, would bump up the command’s budget by 1...
Published: 02/12/18