Dad surprises kids with arrival

TRUMAN – Sydney Oeltjenbruns inner alarms were ringing Friday when her mother came to collect her from class at Truman Public School just before lunchtime.

All she knew was that her mom said they needed to have a family talk, and to come down to the library.

The fact that four of her siblings were there too made her even more worried.

She quickly sent a text to her dad, whom she hadn’t seen for five weeks while he was away with the Army Reserve.

“I was scared,” she said. “I texted him, ‘What is going on?'”

The text she sent didn’t have to travel far.

Jake Oeltjenbruns was just doors away, waiting to surprise his kids with an early return from service.

Fourteen-year-old Sydney burst into tears when she saw him, and ran in for a hug with her brothers Clayton, 12; Jarod, 7; and Tyson, 5; and her sister Amber, 9.

When Clayton spotted his dad waiting for them behind a bookshelf, his first words were an exuberant, “I knew it!”

Jake had the opportunity to surprise his children once previously, at a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon event last summer at Fairmont Aquatic Park.

Friday’s early reunion was possible because Jake’s training in California ended earlier than scheduled – the children expected him to return next week – and he was able to get an earlier flight.

Mom Josie Oeltjenbruns set up the surprise by telling the children she needed to spend overnight Thursday in Mankato as part of her schooling – she has gone back to college – but she instead went to pick her husband up at the airport.

Jake has been serving in to U.S. military for nearly 11 years, but spent most of that time in the National Guard. When he joined the Army Reserve he began spending long periods of time at training classes and away from his family.

He will be home until April, after which he will leave again until July.