Kristina Redman holds a sign at Loranger Memorial School in Old Orchard Beach welcoming home her home her husband, Dan, who is seen hugging their son, Jacob. He had been on deployment in South Korea for the past year and surprised his sons at school. LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

OLD ORCHARD BEACH — Dan Redman hadn’t slept for 48 hours, but any fatigue he had was overshadowed by the joy of seeing his family for the first time in a year.

Redman, an E-8 first sergeant with the U.S. Army, returned home to Maine on Wednesday after a year deployment in South Korea.

Within a few hours on arrival, he was at Loranger Memorial School to surprise his two sons – 12-year-old Jason and 10-year-old Jacob.

The visit was orchestrated by his wife, Kristina, and their 20-year-old daughter Kiah, along with school officials.

“It’s been so hard to keep the secret. I almost blew it twice,” said Kristina. She said the boys thought their father’s deployment had been extended until October. Dan had been deployed several times before, and it’s not a rarity for a deployment to be extended, she said.

Dan stopped first at Jacob’s classroom, and then at Jason’s. Each boy had the same reaction. Upon seeing their father, they immediately stopped what they were doing and ran into his arms for a hug.

Dan Redman hugs his son, Jason, at Loranger Memorial School in Old Orchard Beach on Wednesday. LIZ GOTHELF/Journal Tribune

“You weren’t supposed to come back until another six weeks,” said Jason as he clung to his father. His eyes wet with tears he said, “You know, I can’t really be mad at him.”

Dan has served for 29 years and is planning on retiring next year. He expects this past stint in Korea was his last deployment, and he’ll be going to Georgia next month.

“We just want him to stay home for a while,” said Jacob as he walked through the school hallway with his family. “He’s been gone a long time. I’ve missed him.”

“I’ve missed you, too,” said Dan.

Kristina said Tuesday marked exactly a year since Dan had been away, and the family has stayed in contact with Dan through video calls on Facebook messenger.

She said the family had planned a big welcome-home party for Dan, but aside from that, they just wanted to spend time together as a family.

“This is very exciting. We’re thrilled,” she said.

The boys chatted with Dan about their two dogs who hadn’t welcomed him home yet and their new tree house they wanted him to be sure to check out. He commented on how the boys had grown and they compared shoe sizes.

A lot can happen in a year, and Dan said catching up with his family was his top priority, as well as settling into the family’s new home that was purchased while he was away.

“He’s only seen pictures of the new house,” said Kristina.

Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or [email protected]

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