ELIZABETHTOWN — On Wednesday, Kylie Grace McGough lost a tooth. On Thursday, she got her dad back.
John McGough, an IED detection dog trainer contracted with the Marines, has been stationed in Afghanistan for the past few months, returned home for a one-week leave just after lunch on Thursday and surprised his daughter and son, Caleb, at Elizabethtown Christian Academy.
“This really means a lot to me being able to surprise my children like this,” John said as he teared up a bit. “It’s good to be home, even for a short time.”
Kylie Grace is a kindergartner at the school and Caleb is a morning pre-schooler. ECA is a Christian ministry affiliated with Elizabethtown Baptist Church on West Broad Street.
By the time John walked in the classroom door and saw his two children, there was hardly a dry eye among the several adults in the room. The children, of course, were shocked at whom the special visitor was.
“We know when a parent is not in the home for one of our students, so we’ve known about (John) being away,” said Ronald Montgomery, headmaster at ECA. “We work hard to work with the family and support those children, so it’s really special for us to be a part of this.”
He added that John has been remembered during prayer time at the school each day.
Earlier in the week, Montgomery was notified by Austen McGough, John’s wife, that he would be coming home, and she asked if a surprise for the children could be worked out.
“We thought that was a wonderful idea,” Montgomery said.
And when John entered the classroom, Kylie Grace and Caleb went from shocked to ecstatic withing a split second — jumping out of their front-row seats and racing to hug their father’s neck. And for the next 15 minutes, none of them let go of the other.
“They’ve missed their dad,” Austen said. “This means a lot to those children.”
John said he’s looking forward to spending quality time with his family before he has to return to Afghanistan, where his job is to train dogs to locate bombs for the Marines.
As for Kylie’s tooth …
“She was hoping it wouldn’t come out until her daddy got home,” Montgomery said. “But when the tooth fairy came and left a dollar, she left the tooth behind so Kylie could show her dad.”