Marine Comes Home, Surprises Children and Football Team

By David Biggy | Aug 28, 2019
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

Stafford Township — Possibly the hardest thing U.S. Marine Corps Major Brock Anderson has had to do during the past eight months was keep away from his children for nearly two days after returning home last Tuesday.

“My kids and their mom don’t live too far away from where I am now, so it was a bit tough to not be seen for a couple of days,” said Anderson, who on Aug. 22 showed up to the Southern American Youth Football program’s practice to surprise 8-year-old Blake and 6-year-old Brantley as well as the 8U football team he helps coach. “I had to lay low until we could pull this off.”

On Jan. 3, Anderson was sent to U.S. Central Command in Qatar to help individuals with certain types of training.

“They needed somebody with specific qualifications and proper security clearance and I had everything they needed, so they sent me,” said Anderson, who previously served eight years active duty, including a stint in Afghanistan in 2012 and 2013. “Deploying isn’t ever easy, but our country needed me to go. I signed up to serve this great nation of ours, so I went.”

Now a Marine reservist, Anderson was gone until late July, when he returned to Camp Pendleton in California and then his home unit in Virginia Beach, Va., for wrap-up work regarding the operation for which he was deployed. Meanwhile, in Manahawkin, Anderson’s ex-wife, Sam Seiter, his parents, Bob and Renee, and his girlfriend, Kerry Butler, kept the children busy.

“We were married for eight years and we had all been a part of a lot of spur-of-the-moment stuff, moving around and such,” Seiter said. “When the kids were really young, they didn’t know much, but now that they’re a bit older they understood why their dad had to go away for a while. But they’re resilient. They got through it. They’ve been troopers.”

With both Blake and Brantley taking up football this year – Brantley particularly was excited to play tackle football this season – and Brock’s originally scheduled return date of Aug. 31 drawing closer, the children were getting anxious for dad to get back so he could help coach the team this fall.

After his return date had changed to Aug. 20, the idea to surprise the kids at practice was put into place. Of course, pulling off such a surprise needed to be a team effort.

“I coordinated it with the coaches,” Seiter said. “And Brock’s parents have been coming down from Gettysburg, Pa., every Thursday, anyway, so it wasn’t too hard to figure out. We wanted to do something special and they were all for it.”

At the beginning of practice, the coaches lined up the players for some warmup activity, and after Brock emerged from the black SUV perfectly positioned to the extreme south end of the parking lot next to the main field at the north end of the Doc Cramer Sports Complex, the surprise was sprung.

The coaches requested Blake and Brantley retrieve some equipment from the shed near the concession stand, and as they ran in that direction Brock entered their view. With dozens standing nearby, phones out to capture the moment, Blake stopped for a moment as his sister wondered which way she had to go.

“No way!” he excitedly half-shouted, Brantley still unaware what was happening. Finally, once Blake had told Brantley their dad was 30 yards in front of them, they ran into his waiting arms.

“It’s really cool,” Brantley said later, when asked what she thought of her dad’s surprise return. “I’m happy he’s home.”

For good, he said.

“I’ll have to do my drill schedule on weekends, once per month, but now I’m home for good,” Anderson said. “I missed a couple of scrimmages, but now I’ll be here to help coach the football team, which I really enjoy, and probably start looking toward some future endeavors. I’m a certified personal trainer, so I may be looking to do some more with that.”

But first on the agenda was some quality time with the children, and getting reacquainted with home life.

“It’s great to be home,” he said. “When you spend so much time in a desert, it’s humbling to see and walk on grass, to smell the ocean. There’s no better place to be than in America. The opportunities we’re afforded in this country are incredible.”

— David Biggy

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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