Last weekend started just a bit earlier for a Weyauwega Elementary third grader.
Caydance Schumacher returned to her classroom after lunch last Friday, Jan. 23, and soon received a surprise.
The surprise was her father, Bryan Schumacher.
He arrived in Weyauwega the previous evening, after nearly a year serving overseas.
“I got home state side about a week ago. I talked to my wife about surprising her,” Bryan said of his daughter.
Bryan and his wife Mellissa have two children: 4-year-old Amelia and 2-year-old Grant. They were in on the secret.
The night Bryan arrived in Weyauwega, Caydance spent with her mother Kylie Faskell.
Mellissa joined Caydance for lunch at school the next day.
She knelt next to Caydance’s desk after they returned to the classroom.
Caydance’s teacher, Kristine Hudziak, talked about who needed to stay inside during recess to complete school work.
Caydance did not notice her teacher happened to be holding her camera, and her step-mother kept glancing toward the classroom door.
When Bryan walked into the room, many of her classmates noticed him before she did.
As soon as she did, Caydance immediately went into his arms.
They hugged each other, and she kept smiling.
A boy in the classroom asked Bryan what it is like to fight.
“I was in the business of making friends this time. We make friends today, so you don’t have to fight in 20 years,” Bryan said.
When Hudziak asked Caydance whether she wanted to stay at school the rest of the day or go home with her father, Caydance quickly said, “Go with Dad.”
“Shocked” was the word Mellissa used to describe Caydance after the couple pulled off the suprise.
It was last March 1 that Bryan, a member of the Wisconsin Army National Guard, left with the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team-Military Engagement Team, out of Camp Douglas.
Bryan, who grew up in Weyauwega, enlisted when he was a junior at Weyauwega-Fremont High School.
Members of his family are no strangers to the service.
His grandfather was in the Korean War, his father was in the U.S. Army, and he also has a brother in the service.
Bryan, who graduated from high school in 2002, said this was his second tour overseas.
His first one was in 2005-06 and involved base security in Kuwait.
He returned there for his most recent tour.
“We were based out of Kuwait,” Bryan said. “Our mission was MET, so we conducted security cooperation events with foreign militias in the U.S. Central Command Area of Operations. I traveled personally to Tajikistan, which shares a border with Afghanistan, and also to Jordan.”
He described the mission as “selling peace rather than war and exchanging ideas on how we do things versus how they do things.”
Bryan said he was in Tajikistan three different times.
“I worked with them on air assault and pathfinder operations. The second time was mine clearing. The third time was artillery exchange,” he said. “The two missions to Jordan were both maintenance related.”
Bryan said, “We basically got to submerge ourselves in civilian culture and work with the military. They were very excited to see Americans and work with Americans. We were very welcome guests in their country. With all the current events in that area, they are excited to learn how we do things with our military, so we can help them improve their readiness and security.”
During his tour overseas, Bryan said he used Skype quite often to communicate with his family.
Now that he is back home, he will continue his demobilization process through the Yellow Ribbon Program and then return to Bravo Battery 1-120th, the unit he was in before this most recent mission.
“My full-time job is a maintenance supervisor at Tyson Foods in New London,” he said. “This is a part-time job.”