A Soldier’s Surprise

Marine Lance Cpl. Dan Coppinger-Donovan surprised his siblings, Mary Barden, 11, a sixth-grader, and Charles Barden, 9, a fourth-grader, at the Ann Antolini Elementary School’s 13th annual Veteran’s Day celebration Friday morning. Coppinger-Donovan had been serving in the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean for several months and hadn’t seen his family since leaving home on January 1 of this year. He left Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina on Thursday on a four-day leave, and drove fourteen hours to New Hartford, arriving at 6:00 a.m. Friday morning to attend the ceremony and surprise his younger siblings. He emerged unannounced from backstage during the event in the school’s auditorium as his siblings were being questioned about their brother by fourth-grade teacher Sheila Hawley. After an emotional reunion, the event proceeded as usual with songs and poetry, and a slide show of students relatives who are veterans. When the event ended, Coppinger-Donovan carried his siblings – over his shoulders – back to their classrooms. There would be plenty of time to visit at home for a perfect Veteran’s Day weekend.

NEW HARTFORD 11/08/13 Marine Lance Cpl.  Dan Coppinger-Donovan surprised his siblings, Mary Barden, 11, and Charles Barden, 9, at Ann Antolini Elementary School's annual Veteran's Day celebration after being deployed in the Persian Gulf for the past several months.  Coppinger-Donovan is based at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina, is home in New Hartford on a four-day Veteran's Day leave. Coppinger-Donovan's older sister, Cara Coppinger-Donovan is at left.  CLOE POISSON|cpoisson@courant.com

NEW HARTFORD 11/08/13 Marine Lance Cpl. Dan Coppinger-Donovan surprised his siblings, Mary Barden, 11, and Charles Barden, 9, at Ann Antolini Elementary School’s annual Veteran’s Day celebration after being deployed in the Persian Gulf for the past several months. Coppinger-Donovan is based at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina, is home in New Hartford on a four-day Veteran’s Day leave. Coppinger-Donovan’s older sister, Cara Coppinger-Donovan is at left. CLOE POISSON|cpoisson@courant.com

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