Army dad surprises daughter at school
ARMY SPEC. ROSS GUPTILL waves to everyone after he and daughter Brooke were reunited Thursday at Altimira Middle School.
Terry Roberts/Special to the Index-Tribune
The last person 13-year-old Brooke Guptill expected to see walk into her PE class at Altimira Middle School Thursday was her father.
Even though they talk almost weekly, Brooke hadn’t seen her father, Ross Guptill, in about 2-1/2 years. Ross, a Specialist in the Army, just returned from his second tour in Afghanistan and surprised his daughter by arriving with a 50-person motorcycle escort.
“I was very surprised,” Brooke said. “I wasn’t expecting this at all.”
She said she and her class were getting ready to do their next project when there was a commotion by one of the doors. Then, as Ross Guptill,her grandparents, and the 50-person delegation entered the gym, she recognized her father.
“At first, I didn’t realize it was him,” she said. “I was shocked and surprised … and just happy that he was back.”
Ross Guptill said the welcome had been arranged by his parents, Ron and Arlene.
“I just let them know I was flying in,” he said. But even he was surprised by the escort from the Warriors Watch, the Patriot Guard, the Christian Motorcyclists, the RIP City Riders and the Native Sons of the Golden West. Altogether, there were about 50 motorcycle riders who escorted the Guptills through the middle of Sonoma.
His parents went to Sacramento Thursday morning to pick him up and the first of the escort motorcycles joined them in Fairfield. The rest joined at Friedman’s on Napa Road.
“I didn’t have a clue,” Ross said. “I figured we come to the house, grab a bite to eat and then go pick up my daughter.”
The 35-year-old Ross, who’s home for about a week, has been in the Army for the past seven years and has spent two tours in Afghanistan and one tour in Iraq.
He was surprised at how his daughter had grown. “She’s grown exponentially,” he said. “She’s 13. That’s a big age.”
He said Brooke was in a group of kids and probably didn’t know it was her father until he got to about half court.
“She was extremely surprised,” he said.
Family came in Saturday, and Sunday they were going to watch some football, but Ross didn’t have any plans for the week, except to spend some time with Brooke. “As long as we get to be together,” he said.
Ross’ mother, Arline Guptill, said she mentioned that Ross was coming home to a friend of hers who decided that Ross needed a reception. But planning it didn’t start until Tuesday morning. Then it snowballed.
“She game me a number to call, but I figured it would be a small greeting,” she said. “But it went from a small greeting, to a large greeting and then to a very large greeting.”
“I was flabbergasted,” she admitted.
She said that once the word got out, more and more people volunteered for the escort.
“Many of them are Vietnam veterans who didn’t get a warm welcome home,” she said. “Others didn’t serve, but feel this is their way to serve.”
“I can’t say enough good things about them,” she added.
After his week at home, Ross will return to his home base at Ft. Knox, Ky. “I’m hoping to get transferred to Ft. Stewart in Georgia,” he said. “But that’s out of my control.”
This week, father and daughter are together again. Brooke hadn’t made any plans, but she does want her father to take her to Taco Bell.