Iowa National Guard mom surprises her sons at Osage School

[anvplayer video=”5193827″ station=”998128″]

(ABC 6 News) – Lincoln Elementary was host to a special moment for a military family earlier this week. A moment the school is still celebrating.

Traylon and Keaton Stangel are just like any other kids in their school and they want people to know their favorite colors are blue and red. There’s a big difference that they have compared to other kids, their mom Trista has been gone for almost a year.

Trista Stangel is in the Iowa Army National Guard and was station in Poland from November 2022 until this last weekend. She did her best to stay in touch with Traylon, Keaton, her oldest son Preston, and husband, Jason. But being in different time zones and thousands of miles away, still made it hard.

“I called the boys, what, almost every single day,” said Trista Stangel. “Every morning before school for the most part. Sometimes twice a day was getting to be too much because they didn’t have much to say, so we stuck with one day.”

The communication may have been brief but it was a big help for all of them.

“It was pretty stressful over there so just being able to say hi to my boys and telling them I love them it was much needed,” she said.

A week ago, Trista reached out to the boys teachers’ Mrs. Ledbeter and Mrs. Wright. She told them she was coming home and wanted to do something to surprise her boys.

“When I got that text I just kind of smiled ear to ear just knowing that that time is up for him,” said Chelsea Ledbeter, Traylon’s second grad teacher. “Mom’s going to be home. I took him again this year just knowing that mom wasn’t home, starting a new school year, a new grade. Having the same teacher would be an easier transition for dad and Traylon.”

Mrs. Ledbeter and Mrs. Wright did all they could to help make it happen and when the moment came on Monday, it was priceless for all.

“It was hard not to cry behind the camera too,” said Mrs. Wright, who took a video of Keaton’s reaction. “But you can just see the pride he has in his mom anytime we would read a story or anytime in social studies military or freedom, anything would come up.”

With mom back home, Traylon and Keaton are just happy to share each day with her.

“I love her,” said Keaton.

“She’s the best mom ever,” Traylon exclaimed as he leaned into his mom’s side for a hug.

“Aw, you’re amazing. You’re going to make mom cry again,” said Trista.

Trista’s parents will be coming to visit the whole family from northern Minnesota this weekend as they celebrate a larger family reunion. She also celebrated 20 years of service time this month and plans to officially retire from active duty in February.

The full reunion can be watched here.