A very happy and emotional homecoming occurred on Thursday, December 19 as Staff Sergeant Mark Deer surprised his children at Mispillion Elementary School in Milford, after eight months of serving the United States Military in Afghanistan. A member of the Delaware National Guard 198th expeditionary signal battalion, Deer has completed his third deployment just in time for the family to receive a truly blessed Christmas.
Sergeant Deer, member of the 198th Expeditionary Signal Battalion satellite communications team, left Delaware on April 12th for Fort Bliss, Texas before heading to Afghanistan on his third tour of duty. Mark has been active duty military and has been a part of the Delaware National Guard for over 20 years. This was his first deployment having children and a family including their children Grace, 9 year old in fourth grade and Alex, eight year old in third grade.
“I am so excited, it is everything all at once, I am so happy, thrilled and relieved that dad is home,” commented Patty Deer, mike’s wife and mother of their two children. “I am happy he is safe , we needed him home.”
Patty admits that at times it was very difficult raising two small children during his nine month deployment. In addition to being a full-time mother, Patty currently works as Bariatric Program Coordinator for Bayhealth Medical Center, and was recognized by her colleagues this month as she received the Bayhealth Milford Memorial DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses.
“[During his deployment] I had to do a lot of things he normally takes care of, the kids have been remarkable,” commented Patty. “We had our times but I think we did very well overall as a little family unit.”
Unknown to Grace and Alex, their father returned home from Afghanistan and he was waiting to see them at the end of school on Thursday. Expecting a normal ride home from school with mom, Mark met them in the lobby of Mispillion Elementary School for an emotional homecoming. With tears in the eyes of the family and all the teachers and school staff that were watching, Grace and Alex were able to hug and kiss their father for the first time in over nine months.
“As a father it was pretty tough, you miss your family,” commented Mark. “You look forward to the day you come home, it is so great to be home. I am relieved and happy.”
The Deer family shared that the communication technology that was available to the Delaware National Guard helped to strength the family bond while Mark was overseas. They kept in constant contact through email and facetime even though over 6,835 miles separated them. With dad home for Christmas and much to be thankful for, the family is looking forward to catching up and spending time with each other.
“I am looking forward to just having my loves all together,” commented Patty. “Grace is looking forward to our family game nights and Alex is looking forward to a family vacation and visit to Legoland. Mark is looking forward to spending the holidays with his family.”