For second-grader Cadell Robertson, a typical leadership assembly with high-fives Friday afternoon became a family reunion as his father returned home from the Navy.

Students sat in the cafeteria of Lindale ISD’s College Street Elementary looking forward to high-fives from the school’s eagle mascot.

But Cadell was in for a surprise to see who was behind the eagle’s mask.

Navy Lieutenant Chip Robertson had not seen his three kids in almost a year. His wife, Lacy, created a plan to surprise his three kids, Cadell, Axel, 5, and Sadie, 11, on Friday.

He put on the eagle costume ahead of the assembly as he looked forward to seeing his kids in person once again.

“I’m super excited,” Chip said ahead of the event. “I can’t wait; it’s just an overwhelming joy just being able to see my kids again.”

The last time he was home, it was for just two days last Thanksgiving.

“All I want to do is come to school and come running to get them,” he said.

At the assembly, he began giving out the high-fives and hugs to all the children, but Cadell was the last one to receive the honor.

Principal Ashley Smith brought Cadell up to the front of the cafeteria to congratulate him for all his hard work as a leader and exceptional student despite not seeing his dad in nearly a year.

“He was our eagle leader last week and he is kind of a super student because he is an exceptional leader. And one of the things that makes Cadell so awesome is amid his circumstances ... he stayed positive,” Smith said. “He hasn’t seen his dad since November. This is just one of the ways he is so awesome because he’s still a leader.”

Axel and Sadie joined their brother for a high five with the eagle. And that’s when the big unveiling came when Chip took off the head of the eagle.

As Chip wrapped his eagle wings around his kids, smiles and tears of joy filled the room. The family of five was finally reunited.


I came to the Tyler Morning Telegraph in September 2019. I report on crime, courts, breaking news and various events in Tyler and East Texas.

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