Juanette Martin, a Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, surprised two of her daughters in their classes Thursday afternoon. It had been more than eight months since her deployment to Japan.
"I'm just so happy," said Karen Eddie, Martin's mother. "We've been planning this for more than one month."
Eddie had been looking after Martin's daughters while she was stationed near Yokosuka, Japan on the U.S.S. George Washington, a Nimitz-class, nuclear-powered supercarrier commissioned on July 4, 1992.
Martin's reunion with, Allison, 9, and Ava, 7, was filled with tears of joy and long embraces. Her oldest daughter Alexis, 13, is a student at Mesa View Middle School, but she was out of town for a music department trip to a band festival in Gallup.
"She planned it for the girls," Eddie said in a phone interview before the reunion. "The only way we could get in contact was through Facebook and Skype. It was really hard we had to bite our tongues a few times ... Finally, today's here. We haven't seen her for eight months now. I just can't wait to see their faces."
Their faces told a story that no words could.
"It was unbearable," Martin said. "I've been in the Navy for 18 years. This is the first time I've ever had to leave them."
Since her deployment to Japan, Martin kept in contact with her family through weekend Skype chats.
In two weeks, Martin's leave will be up and she will return to Japan to finish her two-and-a-half year deployment.
This brief time together, however, was summed by Ava as she stood outside her school in the bright March sun waiting to go home with her family.
"It's good," she said, as a smile lit up her face.
Greg Yee may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 564-4606. Follow him on Twitter @GYeeDT