Airman surprises wife at emotional school assembly homecoming

TSgt. Vanengelenhoven takes a picture with wife Rachel after surprising Lafayette Meadows Elementary School.

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) A member of the United States Air Force surprised his wife after a six month deployment in Southwest Asia.

TSgt. Jesse Vanengelenhoven’s wife, Rachel Venengelenhoven, is a Media Specialist at Lafayette Meadows Elementary School. The two were reunited at a the school, during an assembly Tuesday afternoon.

“She wanted a surprise so you know what, I’m going to go all out,” TSgt. Vanengelenhoven said about planning the surprise with school leaders.

Married a year, the Vanengelenhoven’s spent half that time apart. Jesse was deployed to southwest Asia. Meanwhile, Rachel was working at Lafayette Meadows Elementary School.

“It’s been so long,” Rachel explained. “It could of been longer. I’ll know some people deploy for years, so six months isn’t as long as some people have to deal with. But it’s a long time for me so, just so happy.”

TSgt. Vanengelenhoven came into a school assembly at Lafayette Meadows Elementary School before surprising his wife Rachel, a staff member there.

Students gathered to learn about kindness at the assembly. Special guest, Sparty, the Homestead High School mascot, showed students ways to share kindness with a high five and a fist bump. For special staff member, Rachel, it was a hug. He removed the mascot’s head and after a second of realization, Rachel ran into his arms.

After months of being apart, the couple told NewsChannel 15 what they were looking forward to doing first.

“Go get food, Rachel said. “He hasn’t had decent food in six months, so food’s top priority.”

“Well, food obviously,” TSgt. Vanengelenhoven added. “But, just being back with family and friends. Getting back to normalcy.”

TSgt. Vanengelenhoven has a month off before heading to Grissom Air Reserve Base to work full-time.