Army dad surprises daughter at graduation

Posted June 11, 2013
Updated June 12, 2013

— As students buzzed around the Duke Energy Center in Raleigh on Tuesday to prepare for graduation ceremonies, Lt. Col. Marty Reigher was tucked away in a corner, trying to be inconspicuous in his Army uniform.

“I think this is more stressful than some of the military missions I’ve been on waiting for the word to go,” he joked.

Tuesday’s mission was unlike any other for Reigher, who took leave from his nine-month deployment in Iraq to be at his daughter Anna’s graduation from Middle Creek High School.

Dressed in her cap and gown, Anna Reigher mingled with her classmates, unaware her father was so close.

“She's going off to college before I get back from my deployment,” dad said. “So (it’s) a bittersweet hello and goodbye.”

A few deep breaths later, Anna rounded the corner to get her diploma and realized her dad was standing there.

“I love you,” Marty Reigher said. “I wouldn't miss this day for the world.”

Anna said later the surprise was the best graduation gift she could have asked for - one she dreamed of a few nights ago.

“I had a dream that he was actually here and then I woke up and I was like, ‘Oh, it can't be.’”

Anna didn’t realize how close her dream was to reality. While she was sleeping, her father was secretly holed up at the neighbor’s house in Apex. He arrived three days earlier but didn’t want to give away the surprise to his family.

Then, on Tuesday, Reigher called his wife, Maggie, with instructions to “pick up” Anna’s graduation gift at the neighbors.

Reigher is home for nine days before he returns to Iraq to finish his deployment. He said he plans to take his 11-year-old son, Lee, fishing.


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  • MonkeyFace Jun 13, 2013

    you know i have to say this to ya'll... the planes only leave at certain times on certain days. And the flights are always delayed. I can't remember one of my ex husband deployement with him coming home on time. So maybe he planned it so that he could be home in time, you know, with the delays the military usually has on its flights. Give him a break people, gezz!

  • Krimson Jun 13, 2013

    "I'm with the folks that were shocked that the gentleman was in town for 3 days and was hiding out with friends. To me this is incredibly selfish."

    Its also none of our business...

  • fideloco Jun 13, 2013

    The measure of a man is not what he owns, but how he owns himself.

  • annieseppy Jun 13, 2013

    You may or may not be referring to me, but, I can tell you in all honesty that there was not a drop of hate in my post on my part. On the contrary I felt sadness more than anything when I wrote that. While I concede that the family involved probably loved their surprise no matter what day it was on, I stand by everything I said.

    There is one thing for sure in this world: time is precious and you don't get it back once it's gone... use it wisely.

  • JAT Jun 13, 2013

    goncampin - i wasn't negative. but i would not have wanted to be the kid behind her. That kid deserved to have the same attention that the other kids did and there's no way he or she got it.

  • JAT Jun 13, 2013

    it's not "hate" - it's just why is this such a big story, how did it affect others, and why didn't he want to spend 3 days with his family instead of hiding out next door?

  • Cock a doodle doo Jun 12, 2013

    I never get tired of seeing these stories! I cannot believe there is so much hate in so many of these comments. Well actually I can.

    Nonetheless, I am happy for this family to be back together again! What a wonderful surprise.

  • a-moment-of-truth Jun 12, 2013

    Add me in to the folks who say that was messed up he was here for 3 days prior. I used to date a fella who was worked overseas as a contractor and he would be here in America for DAYS before he let his family know he was here. Once I met him DC where he flew into and we went on mini vacay for 4 days to NYC before he let his family know he was stateside. And I used to tell him the same thing.

  • JennyB Jun 12, 2013

    Oops. 9 month deployment...not 9th. Agh! Well, I still stand by the rest of my statement. Minus the timeframe oopsie.

  • JennyB Jun 12, 2013

    Meh, I don't think it was necessarily selfish for him to be home 3 days prior. It was his 9th deployment, you don't know what their communications are when he's overseas so it might not be much of a big deal to some. I knew wives who spoke to their husbands daily because of the type of job they had in service. I heard from mine maybe once a month if I was lucky when he deployed. Maybe he wanted to come home the day before graduation but the RR window was approved for 3 days prior. People pick and poke at everything. Congrats to him for making it home to graduation. It'll be a wonderful memory for his daughter.