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Feb 12, 2016 4:03 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Guardsman Reunites With Children At Hampton Bays Elementary School

U.S. Coast Guard PO Damien Capone with his children  Lauren and Aiden Capone at Hampton Bays Elementary School on Friday afternoon.  DANA SHAW
Feb 17, 2016 8:21 AM

Lauren and Aiden Capone’s weekend started with a surprise they will never forget.Their father, Coast Guard Petty Officer Damien Capone, came home earlier than expected from an eight-month deployment in Bahrain, a nation neighboring Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf, and decided to surprise his kids at Hampton Bays Elementary School on Friday morning.

“I was happy, happy, happy, happy, happy!” Lauren, 7, a second-grader, said after reuniting with her dad. The last time she saw him, she was still in first grade.

Petty Officer Capone and his wife, Jessica, a Hampton Bays High School alumna, started planning the surprise months in advance.

“I just kinda wanted to do it,” Petty Officer Capone said of the decision to surprise his children at school. “It was our idea, Jessica and myself. We planned it.”

To pull off the surprise, Ms. Capone gave school officials a poem that was written by both she and her husband, and given to Lauren’s teacher, Richard Berglin, to read to his class on Friday, hinting that Petty Officer Capone was home. As Mr. Berglin finished reading the poem, Petty Officer Capone entered Room 19.

Lauren immediately leaped into her father’s arms for the first time in eight months.

“I pretty much figured, like, it was Daddy, because it sounded like something that would be for him,” Lauren said of the poem shared with her and her classmates.

After that, Petty Officer Capone gave Lauren a ride on his back and they walked with his wife across the school to surprise Aiden, 5, a kindergartner.

Aiden’s teacher, Kathleen Palmieri, had just finished reading the same poem to his class when they arrived. And just like his older sister, he jumped up from his seat and embraced his dad as he entered the room.

“We only needed three more [days] to go, but now he’s here!” Aiden said, referring to when his father was supposed to originally arrive home, this past Tuesday, February 16.

Ms. Capone explained that their kids weren’t expecting her husband to come home for a few more days. “They had no clue,” she said. “I’ve been hiding it forever.”

Petty Officer Capone, who is stationed with Patrol Forces Southwest Asia and is part of the Coast Guard’s Maritime Engagement Team, said he was looking forward to seeing his kids—especially during his 20-hour flight back to the United States on Friday.

“It was awesome—it was incredible,” Petty Officer Capone said. “I couldn’t wait for their hugs.”

He said he tried surprising his kids a few years earlier, in 2011, when Ms. Capone took them on a family trip to Walt Disney World in Florida. However, he said they were too young to appreciate the surprise at the time.

On Friday, Lauren said she was looking forward to going home with her father so they could cuddle at night and play her favorite game, horsey. That game involves Petty Officer Capone crawling on his hands and knees while his daughter rides him around like a pony.

Petty Officer Capone timed his latest leave so it coincided with February break for his children so they could all enjoy a family cruise to the Bahamas. Once he returns, he’ll have another week or so with his family before returning to his station in Bahrain. He is not expected to return home again until the end of June.

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Tears in my eyes as I read this beautiful story.
By Mrs.Sea (268), Sag Harbor on Feb 12, 16 4:11 PM
Thank you for your service Damien Capone !!! Welcome home !!
By Biba (566), East Hampton on Feb 12, 16 5:07 PM
Welcome Home, Damien!!!
By Staci Nappi (1), hampton Bays on Feb 12, 16 5:42 PM
How wonderful!! Yes, tears in my eyes....welcome home! Thank you Capone family?
By powerwalker (52), Southampton on Feb 12, 16 7:06 PM
Fantastic! Nice work on setting this up!
By bluelightning (21), Hampton Bays on Feb 14, 16 9:31 AM
Welcome home soldier - God bless you and keep you safe for your loving family's sake and for the sake of the USA...we need men like you here stateside.
By Vikki K (490), Southampton on Feb 25, 16 1:53 PM