Sweet Valentine's Surprise for Fresno Military Family

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Plenty of working parents experience some guilt if their jobs take them away from their families. But one Fresno man -- an Air Force pilot -- has been gone for months, stationed half a world away. That made today's reunion with his kids an extra sweet surprise. Action News was there for a Valentine's week his family will never forget.

For the Prevendar siblings -- their day at Bluff View Preschool started with a very personal message. They watched a video on a tablet of their father, Air Force Captain Alex Prevendar telling them, "I love you and Happy Valentine's Day. I'm sorry again I can't be there for Valentine's Day." Captain Prevendar recorded the video for his kids from the South Korean base where he's been stationed for the last six months. He finished the message by saying, "And I can't wait to see you again. I will see you guys soon." Little did they know how soon.

Captain Prevendar walked into the kids' class holding balloons and flowers. His middle son Cullen, laughed and exclaimed, "Daddy!" The 3-year-old couldn't contain his joy. He was soon in daddy's arms. His sister, 5-year-old Makynzie, though, hesitated, shaking her head when he asked for a hug. Dad understood: "You come back, you don't really know how they're gonna respond to you. And you just hope for the best."

Facetime has helped the young family keep in touch, but dad still missed key moments... including youngest Malachi's first steps. When he left, he was a baby. Now he's a 16-month-old toddler who loves trains. Mom Nikki says she's always reminding the kids about their dad. "They have dolls that have daddy's picture on them that they take everywhere and we take pictures with. He's always part of our lives and we always talk about him and I think that helps."

Captain Prevendar says he has a lot of making up to do in the month he's home. "The emotional attachment, the physical attachment is not always there, so I think there's gonna be a little of an adjustment for sure." A little yes, but Makynzie was back to being daddy's girl in no time. Even though she's only 5 -- she seemed to sense the return of her valentine was temporary. Nikki says that's the hardest part: "She goes, 'Mommy, is daddy home forever?' And I wish I could tell you yes. Part of our job as a military family is to keep serving, and that service means he's gonna be gone and it's just part of our lives." A life of service and sacrifice these kids are having to learn at a very young age. null
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