U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Amanda Fischer had been planning to surprise her 12-year-old son Jared by showing up at his student-led conference at Ballou Junior High.
The plan was for her to just enter the room as the conference began.
Fischer was just returning to Joint Base Lewis-McChord from her assignment at Kunsan Air Base in Korea, where she had served since August.
As luck would have it, circumstances prevented the really big surprise due to flight delays. However, Amanda and her husband Brian were able to regroup and surprise Jared at Sea-Tac Airport, where Jared was told they were going to meet his grandmother.
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“I saw my mom coming up the escalator instead of my grandmother, who I had expected. It was surreal,” Jared said.
The family will be moving to Anchorage, Alaska soon, where Amanda will serve for the next three years at Elmendorf Air Force Base.
Jared’s last day of school as a seventh grade student at Ballou is quickly approaching, and his mom returned just in time to participate in her son’s student-led conference at the school.
Jared began the conference by introducing his mother to his teachers, Tamara Chipps and Troy Halfaday, and moved smoothly through it, explaining its purpose and what he had accomplished during the year. He showed his grades to his mother and talked about his career goals (he wants to be an engineer working with robotics), then concluded by sharing some of his best work.
Amanda kept in close touch with her family with phone calls and Skype, and checked the Home Access Center on a regular basis, monitoring Jared’s schoolwork, acknowledging that the separation was difficult on all of them.
“It was hard to see their faces and not cry, so we limited visits to phone calls so they could be cheerful visits,” she said.
Team Fischer, as Amanda calls her family, has worked together this last year to stay in touch and make the best of their separation.
“We are all in this together and we have all had to make sacrifices and put in the extra effort to make this year work. I am so grateful to have the family and friends that I do,” she said.
At the conference, both Chipps and Halfaday had high praise for Jared as a student.
“Jared is an excellent young man and has a unique maturity about him,” said Halfaday, and Chipps added, “Jared is a serious student and has become engaged in social activities. I’ll miss him so much.”
Jennifer Fox, the assistant principal, said that the Ballou staff works hard to support all of the school’s families.
“However, our military families are near and dear to our heart,” Fox said. “Members with the service are on a pedestal for everything they do for us, and we make a big deal about honoring the military and their families.”
Amanda expressed how extremely grateful she is to have returned safely to her family.
“Being able to all be together again permanently and not just for a quick visit means absolutely everything,” she said. “My family is the most important thing to me and is what keeps me going.”