Anxiousness and smiles abounded Thursday morning at Southwest R-1 School, where staff awaited the return of 1st Sgt. Travis Tipton.

By Sean Wojtkiewicz Contributing Writer

LUDLOW, Mo. – Anxiousness and smiles abounded Thursday morning at Southwest R-1 School, where staff awaited the return of 1st Sgt. Travis Tipton. Currently serving in the U.S. Army, Tipton returned home for a brief medical leave and surprised his children – Zoey, a second-grader, and Thatcher, a preschool student – while they were at school. After meeting his wife, Bethany, and mother-in-law, Carrie Gilliland, at the superintendent’s office, Tipton set out to surprise Thatcher in class. He arrived at the doorway to the classroom and waited quietly while his son finished washing his hands. When Thatcher turned around, he saw his father standing in the room and went rushing to him. He was eager and proud to show off his dad to his classmates and began asking him about all the things they could do, now that he was home. “I just asked mom when you were going to be home!” Thatcher exclaimed to his dad. As he held his son’s hand, Tipton was then directed to the schoolyard, where his daughter, Zoey, had recess. It didn’t take long before she spotted her dad. She ran and leapt into his arms. Other students, including nephews of Tipton, gathered around to welcome him home. Stationed out of Springfield, Mo., Tipton will move out to Fort Riley, Kansas, for knee surgery in the coming days. He’s a year into his third deployment, where he conducts aviary maintenence on aircrafts, such as helicopters. Tipton spent his first half in Kuwait, and then the latter in Afghanistan. He is a 2000 Meadville High School graduate. His parents are Pam and Wayne Marriott of Chula. Of his return, Tipton had this to say, “I’m not done yet. Just a little stop before I go back.”