WEST SALEM, Ohio -- Eleven-year-old Carrie Boak was among the more the 100 5th graders graduating from Northwestern Elementary School Thursday morning. Carrie had already come to terms with the fact that her father would not be able to see her graduate.
As a member of the Ohio National Guard, Lieutenant Colonel Paul Boak was deployed to Northern Afghanistan in November of 2011. But the Lt. Col. Was able to pull some strings with the Army and his daughter's school. So, when it was her turn to receive her diploma, Paul Boak was there to personally present his daughter Carrie’s diploma as a surprise.
Boak says, “I was trying to hold back the emotions to be honest with you. My daughter's grown so much and I'm so proud of her and all my children and what they've accomplished with me being gone.”
Carrie’s 5th grade teacher Brian Smith, who is also a member of the Ohio National Guard, had just 24 hours to arrange the surprise.
Smith said, “She was totally shocked. It was a good, great expression. It was worth all the trouble he had to go through to get here from Afghanistan to Shelby, Mississippi, to Fort Knox, to Cleveland, Ohio, to Northwestern Elementary. That's the path he had to take."
Carrie says her dad got her a bow for Christmas, and wants him to teach her how to do archery.
Paul Boak has two other children and his wife, Candice. He says he plans to spend quality time with his family over the next few days. As for his future in the military, he says he’s been serving his country for 30 years and plans to continue to serve, for as long as he can.