Soldier returns home, surprises 6-year-old daughter at dance recital

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A local six-year-old got an unforgettable surprise Sunday.
Her father, a sergeant in the Army, returned home from deployment when his daughter was least expecting it.

WATE Six On Your Side’s Elizabeth Kuebel was there to capture the emotional moment. 

Dad returns from deployment in Poland

Ansley Bottoms and her dance partner took center stage at their recital in Oak Ridge. What she couldn’t see was her dad, hiding off to the side.

Sgt. Michael Bottoms walked on stage to deliver his daughter a bouquet of flowers and a very special surprise. 

He and Ansley haven’t seen each other in person in almost a year. 

Bottoms returned home to Tennessee from his deployment to Poland on Saturday and stayed in a hotel overnight, so he wouldn’t spoil the secret.

Sacrificing family time to keep America safe

“I’m just happy to be home,” he said. “A lot of times when it comes to being in the service you end up having to sacrifice the time with your family to make other people and other families feel safe. Being able to come home and get back to my family is definitely a good feeling.”

This family is now getting in lots of hugs and reflecting on what’s bound to be a day they’ll never forget. 

Lots of hugs

“Probably the best part of it was she didn’t get enrolled in dance until after I was already deployed. So I haven’t even been able to see a dance recital or anything. I watched her kindergarten graduation through Facebook Live. So actually being able to be here and be able to watch it in person, that definitely made the difference,” Sgt. Bottoms said.

Bottoms told us he’s now got quite a bit of time off before he has to go back to work, so he and his family are now really looking forward to soaking in the next few months together.

You can watch the story on WATE’s website by clicking this link.

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