Soldier surprises daughter
When Marishia Fraser put on the blue W.S. Neal volleyball uniform Thursday, she had no idea who’d be in the stands to cheer her on.
Derrick Fraser, Marishia’s father, stopped by the gymnasium to watch his daughter play. That simple act wasn’t anything out of the ordinary – unless you count the fact he had spent the last two years on a U.S. Navy nuclear aircraft carrier.
Marishia, a seventh-grade student at W.S. Neal Middle School, said she knew her father was coming home, but she had no idea it would be Thursday and in time for her game.
“It was shocking to see him come in,” Marishia said. “It was unexpected and I was really surprised.”
Derrick had let his family know he was coming home, but he didn’t tell his daughter he’d be able to catch her in action during her game.
“She knew I’d be home, but didn’t know what time,” Derrick said. “I haven’t even gone home yet. When I got to town I came straight to the gym.”
Derrick is making his way to NAS Pensacola where he will spend the next month in training and then on to a new assignment in San Francisco.
The new assignment comes on the heels of a two-year stint on the U.S.S. Carl Vinson as it sailed through the Middle East and East Asia.
“This has been a long deployment,” Derrick said. “I was involved in a lot of things during my deployment. I saw the earthquake in Haiti and was there when we got Osama bin Laden, and even the tsunami. It’s been interesting.”
Derrick’s mother Tina Fraser said her son’s return is something she won’t soon forget.
“I am just tickled pink,” Tina said. “I talked about it all day long for a week at work.”
Tina said she was proud of her son for what he has accomplished and how far he has gone in his career.
“You know, coming from a small town sometimes people think you won’t ever go anywhere or do anything special,” Tina said. “Well, he has. He has seen the world and come back home. I’m one proud mama. To know he came from here, graduated at W.S. Neal and went on to bigger things makes me very proud.”
Tina said she has the typical fears of any mother of a serviceman.
“Of course I get nervous,” Tina said. “But, with him on the nuclear aircraft carrier, they are typically far out into the waters away from anything that might be going on. And, they have other ships out there to protect them. My husband (Larry) was in Iraq and was injured, so I know that heartbreak. I’m glad to have him home and back in the states.”
Derrick said his next assignment in San Francisco will probably span the next four years of his career — but Marisihia won’t be joining him.
“My mother has been here taking care of things for my daughter,” Derrick said. “I won’t be taking her to San Francisco with me. There’s nothing like home, and she can stay grounded here. She doesn’t need to be out there in that fast-paced environment. I know that she has school, friends and family here to keep her grounded and headed in the right direction.”
Derrick said the few days he has at home before going on to Pensacola will be a great time to reconnect with his daughter and the rest of the family.
“We’ll be able to spend some time together for a couple of days,” Derrick said. “Then on the weekends, I can spend some time here with them, too. After that, it’s off to San Francisco.”
Derrick said his plan to remain in the military service sn’t something anyone in his family should be surprised about.
“I want to help recruit for the Navy,” Derrick said. “Being in the military is just something we do in the family. It’s a tradition.”