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Deployed Dad Surprises Family

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Family is important, especially during a big event like high school graduation.

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But for military families, when duty calls, a lot of these big events can be missed. 

At Sunday's Grand Forks Central High School commencement, one deployed dad gave his daughter an unforgettable graduation gift.

The Central High School graduation ceremony started out like any other with speeches, music and of course, handing out diplomas. Proud parents watched on, but for one student, something was missing; her father.

Graduate Taylor Crafton says, "I don't think I really realized that he wasn't going to be here until he called me, because it was the same number that he's been calling me from the past five months."

Taylor's father, Chris, a member of the Air Force, had been deployed to Cuba months prior. The Crafton's didn't think Chris would be able to make it, So they had a cardboard cutout made. It came with Taylor to prom and now for her graduation.

Taylor says, "My mom's friend made it for us back in Virginia and sent it to us for prom and for graduation so he could still be here in spirit."

But as it turns out, they didn't need it at all.

Taylor says, "I'm just so happy he's here. Better than a car. Better than anything. So yeah, that's all I wanted for graduation."

Since Taylor was 3 months old, Chris has gone through nine deployments.

Chris says, "For a total of about 17 hundred and 82 days to be exact. Over the years she's missed a lot. I've missed a lot. You know, birthdays, Christmas that kind of thing. I just tried my best to get here for when she graduated. This is my last deployment, so I had to make it happen."

But this wasn't just a surprise for Taylor, no one in the Crafton family knew Chris would be here.

Taylor's Mom Paige says, "These are just things you see on youtube or on TV. You know, it's nothing that really happens to people you know, so it's just the best feeling in the world."

A surprise for the family, but not for Chris, this picture wouldn't be right without him in it.

Chris says, "This is a once in a lifetime thing I have to do for her. I'm just glad it happened."

The Crafton family will be able to spend the next several days together before Chris leaves for Cuba later this week.

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