LITTLE FALLS - A father who has been serving in Afghanistan for the past eight months was reunited with his young daughter during a surprise visit to her school.
Makayla Gielbeda, 7, says she enjoyed catching up with her father, Air Force Capt. Mike Gielbeda, via phone calls or Skype while he was away, but nothing beats the real thing.
"You can deal with the stress of working in a hostile environment, the dangers involved, the people who might not make it back home," Capt. Gielbeda says. "But it's the hardest thing if you miss a birthday, you miss her stories from school."
Makayla was in her second-grade classroom Wednesday giving a presentation on the very man who was waiting just across the hall to see her.
Makayla says the last eight months have been tough, but she knows her dad was doing an important job. "I wanted to see him but he was working. So I had to let him work," she says.
After four deployments, Capt. Gielbeda hopes he is home for good. "When we're together, we're like best buddies, basically," he says.
Capt. Gielbeda is taking Makayla to Disney World, where they will have tea in the Princess Castle.
For interview with Air Force Captain Mike Gielbeda, watch the clip to the left or click News 12 Extra on Optimum TV channel 612.