News: Operation homecoming on ice
Story by Airman 1st Class Jeffrey Parkinson
HURLBURT FIELD, Fla.-- Staff Sgt. Dwight Hicks, 479th Flying Training Group aviation resource manager, surprised his family with a homecoming during the Pensacola Ice Flyers military appreciation night Nov. 9 in Pensacola, Fla.
Col. Thomas Shank, 479th Flying Training Group commander, was not only able to participate in the ceremonial puck drop, but he was also a behind-the-scenes contributor to the surprise.
“[A few] of the things that are important in my life are my family and my faith,” Shank said. “And, the fact that I get to celebrate one of those tonight, [with] one of my ‘Raider’ families, to see the smiles that’s going to be on the faces of Hicks’ family as he takes off the goalie outfit and see that it’s him there protecting the goal, that’s going to be priceless.”
Hicks has been stationed at Pensacola Naval Air Station for two years and has been deployed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, since April 2013.
“This is the first time I’ve been away from my wife and kids for this amount of time,” said Hicks before the show. “I just want to give them a surprise; I know it will make them happy.”
Hicks’ wife, Eunah, and their two children, Caley and Dwight Jr., were “randomly” selected to try and net a hockey puck during the first intermission.
Although Eunah missed all three attempts, she still left the game a winner.
Upon missing her last shot, Hicks skated toward his family. As he approached them, he took of his goalie mask and revealed his true identity.
“I was emotional,” Eunah said. “I was happy, shocked, overwhelmed; it was everything at me all at once.”
Hicks said he did this not only to surprise his family, but also to impact others.
“I hope everyone who witnessed tonight leaves with a sense of togetherness, family, and a sense of pride in their country,” he said. “Men and women just like me go over there every day serving our country, and we do it because we love our nation.”