Return to Headlines

Father and Son Reunite at Veteran's Day Assembly

Nov. 12, 2018

MUNDELEIN, Ill. -- Hosting an assembly in honor of Veteran’s Day is nothing new for the schools in Fremont School District 79. However, a morning assembly at Fremont Elementary School on November 12 took on even greater importance thanks to a special surprise reunion.

For the last seven months, Navy First Class Petty Officer William Mayes has been deployed and away from his family. During his deployment, his family which consists of his wife Traci, his six-year-old son Colton, and his three-year-old daughter Kaylee packed up their belongings and made a move from Florida to Illinois. The mother and two children made the move alone without the patriarch of the family.

Since his deployment in April, the lone interaction that William was able to have with his family was an occasional FaceTime call during a port visit. Colton, who is a first-grader at Fremont Elementary, was told by his mother that Santa was going to bringing his father home for the holidays, but Christmas ended up coming a bit early.

The annual Veteran’s Day assembly is filled with spirited songs sung by the students, a reading of poems and a variety of videos that teach the importance of honoring those who have served to protect the country.

Near the end of the assembly, all veterans in attendance are encouraged to come to the front of the gymnasium to be recognized. On this particular morning, there was one more individual who was eagerly anticipating joining the assembly.

Throughout the opening 40 minutes of the assembly, William Mayes anxiously awaited outside a pair of double doors that led to the gymnasium. He eagerly anticipated a reunion with his son. Finally, after all the veterans were honored, William’s name was announced as a special surprise guest and he entered through the doorway, making a straight line to a stunned Colton.

The father and son shared a big, emotional hug before William lifted Colton into his arms, continuing their embrace. After seven long months, a family finally had been reunited.

William Mayes has two weeks off from service to spend with Traci, Colton and Kaylee before he’ll report to nearby Naval Station Great Lakes. He has been assigned there for the next three years, meaning the family can begin their new life together in their new home.