Army dad gives sons a surprise Christmas visit at Olympia school

Staff writerDecember 20, 2013 

Lt. Col. Will Freds, an artillery officer stationed at Camp Casey in South Korea, got the best Christmas present he could ask for Friday afternoon at Olympia’s Pioneer Elementary School.

He got hugs from his two sons, first-grader Jackson and fifth-grader William, when he unexpectedly appeared from behind a curtain during William’s lunchtime in the elementary school’s cafeteria.

Mom Mandy Freds was present for the reunion. She said her two sons had no idea that their father would be coming home for Christmas. “They knew nothing,” she said.

Mandy Freds said when she left her sons Thursday night to pick her husband up at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, she told them she was going to a meeting.

Lt. Col. Freds, deployed with the 210th Field Artillery Brigade, said he has been in Korea for eight months without seeing his family. He said his two-week visit also is a great birthday present because he turned 39 Friday. “I couldn’t have gotten a better birthday present than to be home with my boys,” he said.

William agreed. “I’m very excited and happy,” he said.

Pioneer Principal Randell Weeks used a ruse to introduce Lt. Col. Freds to his sons Friday. He had William stand up at the podium to introduce a new “watchdog,” who are Pioneer dads who volunteer at the school. Little brother Jackson was called out of recess to report for duty in the cafeteria without being given a reason why.

William said he knew something was up when his little brother walked in. But he added that when he saw his dad, “I was really surprised, I was shocked. It’s going to be pretty awesome that we get to be to together.”

Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5445 jpawloski@theolympian.com

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