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Father reunited with young daughters after seven-month deployment

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Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014

By Mackenzie Scott


MICHAEL GORDON/CRONKITE NEWS: We can guarantee this weekend was one of the best for 14 Valley families. They welcomed home Arizona National Guard members from Afghanistan. As Mackenzie Scott reports, for some, it was a big surprise.

STACIA GUNDERSON/NATIONAL GUARD SPOUSE: They think we are picking up a friend’s friend. They are, like, oblivious to what’s going on.

MACKENZIE SCOTT/CRONKITE NEWS: It wasn’t easy keeping a secret this big from two inquisitive children.

After seven months of being separated, little Sala and Clara Gunderson will finally have their dad back. Mother Stacia didn’t tell her children that Staff Sgt. Mike Gunderson was coming home from his first deployment.

STACIA GUNDERSON/NATIONAL GUARD SPOUSE: Goodbye was really…really hard, but I heard that the welcome home is a lot more emotional. So I know I will be crying and have mascara running down my face, but I can’t wait.

MACKENZIE SCOTT/CRONKITE NEWS: For the staff sergeant, Skype can’t replace that kind of welcome-home hug.

STAFF SGT. MIKE GUNDERSON/NATIONAL GUARD: Technology helps out a lot being able to stay in contact with them. Just being able to stay in contact with them on daily basis was important, but nothing beats being able to hold them and hug them.

MACKENZIE SCOTT/CRONKITE NEWS: And for the Gunderson clan this was just the first surprise of the day.

MACKENZIE SCOTT/CRONKITE NEWS: Was it all that you hoped for?

STACIA GUNDERSON/NATIONAL GUARD SPOUSE: Yes. And tonight’s my son, so I’m super looking forward to that.