AKRON - Army Major Timothy Jenkins spent the last ten months deployed in Kuwait, thousands of miles from his family in Avon.
“Being away from your family, it's extremely difficult. It never gets easy and you just learn how to do it,” Jenkins said. “When you come home you just appreciate things more, it just means so much more.”
After last minute timing changes ruined celebration plans for his past homecomings, Jenkins wanted to make his return home special this time. So, the avid golfer and Bridgestone Invitational volunteer hatched a plan his family never expected.
“I originally had told my wife I was coming home on July 1, so I had to fib a little bit and tell her was I coming home a week later,” Jenkins said. “That was not an easy conversation.”
Jenkins, who even assisted with recruiting volunteers for the Firestone Country Club tournament while serving overseas, was set to receive a five-year tournament volunteer pin this year and figured it would be a perfect setting for a surprise homecoming.
Jenkins’ wife and four kids thought they were accepting the pin on his behalf during a Military Appreciation Ceremony Saturday when Jenkins made his surprise entrance. The stunned audience cheered as he ran into the arms of his relatives.
“I freaked out, I wanted to just run to him and grab him and hug him, kiss him,” wife Rania Jenkins said. She said she cried tears of happiness and had no idea her husband was planning the surprise.
“You never know with the Army. A lot of times the dates change, so I believed it because it's happened before with us,” she said.
“I cannot believe it. Knowing him, he's not great at keeping secrets like this,” daughter Joyce Semaan said. “I was shocked. I didn’t think that he would be coming.”
The family planned to enjoy the Independence Day holiday together, and they were headed straight to a relative’s wedding Saturday night.
Jenkins said he will be home for 30 days before starting a year-long deployment to Turkey.