Emotional Reunion at Chilkoot's
Parents surprised by Air Force daughter stationed overseas
For Alaska's military and their loved ones, there's no place like home, especially when they are often separated for months and years at a time due to deployments overseas. This is the tale of a special reunion between a family and an airman that is truly out of the storybooks.
Hanging out in Spenard isn't how the Howards usually spend their Friday nights.
After watching them for a few minutes, its pretty clear Betty and Glen don't come into Chilkoot Charlie’s very often. But this night was special. They were here among young hip-hop fans at an Operation Morale Boost event, a local nonprofit that supports Alaska's military and their families.
“We all support them, cheering them on, knowing their roots are here,” said Betty Howard. Betty and her husband Glen are one of the families Operation Morale Boost helps. Their daughter Stephanie is in the Air Force stationed in South Korea. They haven't had many chances to see her over the past two years.
“Yeah I miss my baby,” said Betty. “It’s really hard for me, I have had a lot of teary moments.” There were more tears to come later in the evening, but for now the attention was on the music. There were two people who made this event a reality. One was KFAT radio DJ Kimberly Mendez, who’s also the founder of Operation Morale Boost. The second was about to walk through the door.
The prize was Stephanie herself, who surprised her family in a very emotional embrace. It all started when Stephanie called Kimberly with the idea, and months later she found herself in the KFAT studios. “When the plane landed I was like ‘oh my gosh,’” said Stephanie. “I'm really home.”
But hiding out from her family and getting them out of their comfort zone and into Chilkoot’s wasn’t easy. She told them they might have won something at the event. “I told my mom that their names got drawn,” said Stephanie. “I said you guys have to go to the next event, like you have to be there in person to win it and I hope you guys win. I was like, only if you knew, only if you knew.”
With her family all in place downstairs at Chilkoot’s, Stephanie was upstairs waiting to surprise them. “Knowing that they are here, I just want to run down there right now and be like, whoa.” But with patience comes reward. The embrace we mentioned earlier went on for a while, mother and daughter not letting go – having a hard time believing they were in the same room at the same time.