WHEATFIELD, Ind. — Kankakee Valley High School freshman Josiah Johnson was casually warming up on the north end of the track before last Friday’s home track meet. When the loudspeaker came on talking about a special helper for the track meet, his ears started to perk up. When it was announced that the special helper is just back from deployment to the Middle East, Josiah began to look around.

More than 100 meters on the other side of the track was a man dressed in fatigues and Josiah began questioning out loud, “Is that really him, is that really him.”

Josiah began walking down toward the other end and once he saw that indeed it was his father Captain Ryan Johnson, home from a 9-month deployment, he began running faster and faster until the two meet in full embrace.

“I didn’t know what they were talking about at first but when I started getting closer the faster I started running,” said Josiah Johnson. “This means everything to me. I am so happy he can watch another one of my meets.”

It was the last home meet of the season for Josiah and the first his father could attend since he was in 7th-grade.

“I was supposed to be here and it was hard keeping it a secret especially with how close our family is,” said US Army Captain Johnson. “I had to quarantine for 10 days and then ask for a 4-day pass. It was all worth it. I wanted to see my boy run again.”

There are no more scheduled deployments for Captain Johnson, however, the family is planning on moving to Fort Bliss in El Paso this summer.

Josiah Johnson must have been competing won an emotional high as he went on to lead the boy’s team to the KV Invite title by recording a personal record in the high jump at 5’7, a personal best time of 51.67 in the 40 meters, and won the 110-meter hurdles.

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