Soldier returning home surprises daughter: ‘It literally was the best hug ever’

BROOKFIELD -- A young girl was given a surprise she’ll remember for the rest of her life at the Brookfield Zoo Thursday.

Among the hundreds of people at the famous "Dolphins in Action Show," 12-year-old Kristy Flury didn't appear to be that interested at first; after all, the seventh grader has a lot on her mind these days.

Her father, U.S. Army reservist Captain Joshua Flury, has been deployed nearly 7,000 miles away in Kuwait for the last nine months. It’s the kind of long separation that crushes any kid.

“She would watch videos online of soldiers coming home and surprising their kids and she would just cry … and it gets to you,” her mom April said. “I can only be mom, I can’t be dad.”

“I count every month, I count every day, I count every week,” Kristianna said.

Capt. Flury has been deployed before; he spent a year in Afghanistan from 2012 to 2013. And he just wrapped up his time in Kuwait. So April had an idea: a mother-daughter day at the zoo before the start of school would turn into to something much more.

During the live show, the emcee made a special announcement: “Please put your hands together for Kristy’s father, Capt. Joshua Flury."

As she ran into her father's arms, their embrace seemed to last as long as Captain Flury’s deployment.

"As soon as I walked out and she saw me, and I saw her, everything just disappeared. It was just me and her. There was no camera, no people, no pool," Capt. Flury said.

“I blanked out for a second, and ran up to him and it was just awesome to feel his hugs again, be in his arms again and see him home,” Kristianna said.

“It literally was the best hug ever. She squeezed. I had to kind of take a breath because I knew she was going to hold on for a long time, but she held on for a really long time," Capt. Flury said.

The crowd was moved by the act of love, and Capt. FLury got a handshake from just about everybody at the show who thanked him for his service. But it's that one hug that’ll be the embrace he remembers.

"There’s really not words that can describe to put how I felt, I couldn’t talk, she couldn’t talk. It was just a wave of emotion," Capt. Flury said.