04/05/2013 03:02 pm ET Updated Apr 05, 2013

William Webster, Soldier, Surprises His Daughter At School Assembly (VIDEO)

A school assembly turned into an emotional reunion when Sgt. 1st Class William Webster arrived home early to give his little girl a big surprise.

This poignant video shows 7-year-old Madeline Webster leading her classmates in a rendition of “My Country 'Tis of Thee,” when she spots Dad watching from the sidelines. The first grader is shocked, overjoyed and then starts to cry as she hands off her microphone and bolts across the gymnasium to greet her dad.

Madeline told the Fayetteville Observer that her friends and teachers “knew that I missed him because I would cry in class.” When her mom, Jennifer Webster, announced Sgt. Webster's return on Facebook, Donna Depew, a P.E. teacher at Armstrong Elementary suggested surprising Madeline at school. Then, Principal Rhonda McNatt and her staff organized the community to donate gift baskets and cards to the entire Webster family.

Sgt. Webster, who has also served in Afghanistan and Iraq, was deployed to South Korea for the last six months, and wasn’t expected to come home to Eastover, NC until this May. "He has been gone for about three years of [Madeline's] life," said Jennifer Webster to her hometown newspaper. "He is her best friend. They have a bond I have never seen before in a father-daughter relationship.”

Welcome home, Dad!

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