Lanie Cochran-Vas, 12, thought stepdad Craig Woodin wouldn’t be able to make it to the guest speaker’s event at Summit Lake’s Middle School in Missouri – but Craig had other plans.
Captured on video, Craig, 51, arrived at the school on Veteran’s Day, dressed from head to toe in his fighter pilot uniform, including his helmet from his days in the Air Force.
In 2015, Craig retired had as a Master Sergeant after 28 years in the Air Force and National Guard, which resulted in nine deployments.
He initially thought he would not be able to make the event at the school because, having now taken up work on the railroads, the veteran felt he would not be able to take the time off, and going without pay was not an option.
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But when his boss found out about Craig’s desire to speak at the event, he was allowed time to head to Lanie’s big surprise.
Entering her classroom, Craig went up to his stepdaughter’s desk and stood right in front of her.
Then, to Lanie’s surprise, the veteran removed his helmet to reveal his true identity, causing a delighted Lanie to dive into his arms.
Lanie’s mother, Amanda Cochran, 39, from Greenwood, Missouri, captured the moment on video.
She said: “Craig and I were so excited to do this for her, we both had trouble sleeping the night before.
“Walking to her classroom, I was incredibly excited for them both.
“Watching her emotions transform from confusion, to disbelief, then finally reality setting in was absolutely amazing – I felt a sense of pride which brought tears to my eyes.
“Lanie is his step-daughter, and Craig didn’t have to do this.
“But those two, they have this bond that transcends genetics.”
Story courtesy of T&T Creative Media.