This Is Carolina: Soldier surprises dad with the ultimate gift

“You surprised me. About gave me a heart attack.”
Published: Jul. 20, 2023 at 5:30 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 20, 2023 at 6:48 PM EDT
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CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - It was an emotional reunion months in the making.

“I was very excited and grateful that I was able to come,” Chaqueena Bennett said. “I think about my parents every day and I talk to them on the phone every day. So, just to come in person, it meant a lot to me.”

And not just for any visit, the Army sergeant first class officer wanted to surprise her dad, David, for Father’s Day. Chaqueena is stationed in Germany with her family and hasn’t been home since August 2021.

“My mother, she was the mastermind. I told her I wanted to surprise him. I didn’t know how she was going to do it or how she was going to get him to the airport,” she said.

But Queen Bennett managed to concoct the perfect plan.

“I must have told 50 different stories. I ended up telling him that we were going to pick up a package that she was sending him,” Queen said.

“I thought my wife was losing her mind,” David said.

Cellphone video captured the couple waiting at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport with David playing with their grandson.

“He realized soon after that, that I was the package,” Chaqueena said.

“Then I saw her and then I started crying. Tears started coming out of my eyes,” David said. “It was the best Father’s Day I’ve ever had.”

And for the family, they weren’t sure if David would even be here to celebrate.

“I had cancer on the tonsils,” David explained.

David got diagnosed in 2011 and was sick for a few years.

“She came to visit me and lifted my spirits up,” he said.

Thankfully, he is now cancer free.

“Every chance that I get that I’m able to come and visit, I try to take the opportunity to do so,” Chaqueena said.

It’s not the first time she surprised her family. We were at their Conway home in 2021 when Chaqueena surprised her mom after receiving one of her many prestigious military awards.

“She’s always thinking of something. All the time,” Queen said.

The month’s long stay is over and the family packed up the van yet again to drive Chaqueena to the airport. It’s a routine that’s all too familiar for this military family. They will be relying on phone calls and video chats until their next big surprise.

“You surprised me. About gave me a heart attack,” David said.

“I’ll let you know next time. We’ll surprise her next time,” Chaqueena said.

“You never know what she got up her sleeve. She may. She may,” Queen said.

Chaqueena is stationed in Germany until August 2024. She has served in the army since 2009.

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