Military dad surprises son at E-NP Elementary

Master Sergeant Blake Huffman made a surprise appearance at Eldora-New Providence Elementary gymnasium last Thursday during an assembly, and his son Ashton ran out of the bleachers to greet him. (Elaine Loring/Herald-Ledger photos)
Elaine Loring
News Editor

ELDORA – The plan had been in place for a while, and several people knew U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Blake Huffman was going to attend the monthly Tiger Pride Awards Ceremony at the Eldora-New Providence Elementary gym last Thursday – everyone except for his 7-year-old son Ashton.

“We knew he was coming,” said his mom and Iowa Falls resident Tammy Peyton. She was part of the plan and had picked Huffman up at the airport the night before.

The surprise began after all the Tiger Pride accolades and certificates had been handed out. A video then began playing and featured local residents EMS Director Maile Carter, Eldora Police Chief Anthony Schrad and Pine Lake Food Shelf Director Sara Zellmer, who spoke about what being a good citizen meant to them. The final guest on the screen was Blake Huffman, who also gave his take on the importance of citizenship.

When that portion of the video was complete, Huffman stepped out from behind a curtain on the stage and hurried down the steps. Ashton immediately left the bleachers, raced across the gym floor, and jumped into his father’s arms. The reunion was met with cheers, as well as a few tears.

For the past year, Huffman had been deployed to Honduras with the Air Force, and then he had spent 9 months in Kuwait prior to that. “He’s been away for a while,” Peyton continued. “He saw his wife for the first time this morning.”

“I’ll be here for three weeks,” Huffman said. “On March 18, I’m going to Texas to help run a shop.” That shop is a Bomber Base where he will be getting B-1 bombers ready with fuel, and oxygen for the pilots. “We’re going to make sure all the bombardiers are ready.”

“I knew it would be weird,” laughed Huffman’s wife Katie of the surprise. “But he (Ashton) was pretty excited.”

Ashton is a kindergartener in Holly Burk’s class, and she was just as excited to help plan the surprise. “Mrs. Burk made sure she was sitting next to him in the stands,” Katie said.

Blake has spent 18 years and 11 deployments in the military including places like Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Afghanistan, Romania, England and Germany.

Katie is from Iowa Falls, but has been staying at her dad’s residence in Eldora in Blake’s absence, placing Ashton in the E-NP school district. They will travel as a family to Texas in March. Blake is originally from Buckeye and several family members and relatives were also at the EN-P gym to witness the surprise homecoming.



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