Soldier Surprise

SHERIDAN, WYOMING -- A 6-year-old girl in Sheridan, Wyoming was grinning from ear to ear Thursday after she received the surprise of her young life. 
Students at Sagebrush Elementary School played their own version of the TV game show 'Lets Make a Deal.' 
The principal called the names of three contestants who would have the opportunity to open the treasures hidden inside three different boxes. 
The youngest of the three students chosen was first grader Elaina Perkins-Barnes. 
She was the last to pick from the boxes, but what she didn't know was that the pretend game show was about to get really real. 
Elaina threw a punch into the box and ripped off the paper only to find her father inside. 
This is the first time this father and daughter have seen each other in eight months. 
Sergeant John Barnes serves with the Wyoming National Guard aviation control. 
Elaina stood in front of the entire school and explained to them why this is such a surprise. 
"My dad's been in the Army a lot, and he's been in Kosovo, fighting for us," she told her schoolmates. 
Barnes has six months left in his year-long deployment. 
He'll be home with Elaina for ten days. 
"I love what I do. I love being in a uniform, and I just want to be her hero," said Barnes.
It's clear that Barnes is Elaina's hero as she hugged him and told her that she loves him so much. 
"I've been thinking about him since he first went there, so I've been missing him for quite awhile," said Elaina. 
Elaina will be turning 7 in just a few days and already has the best birthday gift ever wrapped tightly in her arms. 
She has already told her dad that she wants a birthday party and to go fishing for her seventh birthday. 
Sgt. Barnes worked closely with Elaina's principal, Mr. Wood, to pull off the surprise.

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