Army-born Connecticut surprises families for Thanksgiving

An Army IT specialist wanted to surprise his grandmother and mother at Thanksgiving after being absent for two years.

Meriden, Connecticut — Army soldiers returning home on a holiday surprised their mother and grandmother who returned to the United States on the morning of Meriden Thanksgiving.

Shanice Smith is a US Army IT specialist and has just returned from Kuwait. After being absent for two years, she wanted to return to Thanksgiving to surprise her grandmother and mother.

The first stop was at Grandma’s house, where she greeted me with balloons at the front door.

“I’m proud, happy, and blessed,” said Doreen Esson, Smith’s grandmother.

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Carol Gordon worked at the ticket office for a high school football game between Maloney and Pratt in Meriden. She was shocked and ecstatic to see her daughter a week earlier than expected.

“I was nervous,” Smith said. “This is the first time I’ve been so emotional that no one in my family has seen it for two years.”

The moment Gordon saw Smith, she shouted with excitement, raising her hands into the air and jumping up and down, getting a big hug from her daughter.

“Oh, that was just a surprise, she did me really well,” Gordon said.

She thought her daughter was staying in Kuwait for Thanksgiving. “I kept asking,’When are you going home?'”

Prior to the reunion, Smith sent Gordon a message wishing for a happy Thanksgiving from the Kuwaiti cafeteria, all of which was part of a larger plan.

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Smith’s aunt Yvonne Bailey Wright was one of the only families who knew Smith was going home early and helped her plan a surprise reunion. They were inspired by another Army soldier who posted their video that surprised the family after returning from active duty.

“We are always surprised. Something like this-no” said Bailey Wright. “But we were always surprised in the family.”

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Smith graduated from Maloney in 2019 and has been active since then, starting with basic training and ending in Kuwait.

She goes home with her family for 42 days and then returns to work in Fort Drum, NY.

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Army-born Connecticut surprises families for Thanksgiving

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