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'Hi, daddy': Reid kindergartener gets surprise visit from Air Force father: WITH VIDEO

By Laura Hayes

laurahayes@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 12/19/19

A special Christmas gift was delivered early to Stephanie Molnar’s kindergarten classroom at Reid Elementary School today.

Molnar brought in a police officer, firefighter and doctor as part …

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'Hi, daddy': Reid kindergartener gets surprise visit from Air Force father: WITH VIDEO

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A special Christmas gift was delivered early to Stephanie Molnar’s kindergarten classroom at Reid Elementary School on Thursday.

Molnar brought in a police officer, firefighter and doctor as part of a community helpers lesson. She described each helper and had the students guess who it was.

“This person helps protect our country. What do we think?” Molnar said.

Some of the students guessed the Army, Navy or a knight.

VIDEO: Air Force staff sergeant surprises daughter at Reid

In walked kindergartner Payson Stark’s father, Trevor, who is a staff sergeant with the U.S. Air Force and has been in Korea for the past year.

“Hi, Payson,” he said.

“Hi, daddy,” she responded before hugging him.

It’s been about a year since she’s seen her dad, and Payson had no idea that this visit was in the works.

“It’s been difficult, that’s for sure because I thought she’d be able to tell that I’ve been acting a little different, but she has no clue,” her mother, Jaclyn, said.

Payson nodded when she was asked if she was excited to see her dad and to spend Christmas with him but was quiet during most of the excitement around her.

It was emotional, but “heartwarming to know that I’m finally home for once and get to stay home this time,” Trevor said.

Trevor grew up in Lancaster and graduated from Hempfield High School.

“I enlisted mainly just to get out of the area and see what life was about outside of Lancaster,” Trevor said.

Trevor has been in the Air Force for eight years, and he’s hoping to serve for 20 years, he said. He works on pilot ejection seats.

The family lived in Arizona for the majority of Trevor’s military career. The Starks now live in Middletown, although they will be moving to Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany in January, where they will be for about three years.

“The plane ride’s not going to be fun, but moving there as a family, it’ll all be worth it in the end,” Trevor said.

Their plans for the holidays include spending as much time with family before they move, Jaclyn said.

Trevor traveled a total of about 14 hours on his journey back to Pennsylvania.

Korea, Trevor said, is a short tour and lasts about a year. He left home last December and missed Christmas, which Trevor said was rough, but he bonded with others going through the same thing.

“We thought it was a good idea to surprise the kids, coming home for Christmas this year. I’m glad that Reid helped us out,” Trevor said.

The surprise was Jaclyn’s idea. At first, they didn’t want to do anything big, she said.

“Then I was like, I want this memory. We’re hoping that he doesn’t have to go again. So we’ve got to take advantage of the situation that we have,” Jaclyn said.

Since Trevor arrived home Wednesday morning, the family has documented everything up to the surprise while keeping the reveal on Thursday a secret.

Jaclyn had several ideas about how to surprise her children with Trevor’s return, like having Santa Claus bring him.

The Starks ended up deciding to have the surprise in Molnar’s classroom, where Jaclyn volunteers once a week.

“She’s very shy, and knowing that she’s shy, I’m wondering  how she’s going to react, but deep down I know she’s going to enjoy it,” Trevor said before walking into the classroom.

Jaclyn said the last time Trevor was on a tour, Payson was a few months old when he returned.

Trevor said he’s missed his family, but he was home now for the holidays.

“That’s the most important part,” he said.

Around the holidays, other kids have asked where their father is and Jaclyn said it can be hard for her children to explain.

“I’m honestly glad that I got the opportunity to do this, especially around Christmas time as well,” Trevor said.