NewsPinellas County


Clearwater soldier returns home, surprises daughter at school

Posted at 4:47 PM, Nov 09, 2021

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Imagine not seeing your child for nearly nine months and what it would feel like the moment you got to hold them in your arms again.

A Clearwater Staff Sergeant Army soldier is back home from Iraq and Syria to his daughter’s surprise, and he planned quite the reunion.

As 10-year-old Cailani Goins-Martinez, a McMullen-Booth Elementary School fifth-grader read a speech to her classmates about veterans, she didn’t know a very special soldier, her dad Cedric Goins, was just a few feet away out of sight.

“She knows I’m back, she doesn’t know I’m here,“ Goins whispered.


As he turned the corner into the cafeteria, Cailani caught a glimpse of her dad, exhaled sharply and ran into his arms. The two shed tears of joy. The moment was nine-long months in the making.

“What’s up, baby? I missed you, “ Goins told his daughter.

Goins trip home is short and sweet. He flies out to Fort Bragg Wednesday, but that moment with his little girl is now a memory he’ll cherish forever.

“Her and my relationship are second to none. How I feel is that every daughter needs their dad. So, my goal is to be the best person, alongside her mother, that she has in her life," Goins said with a smile. “I love him so much and he is like another half of me and one of my most favorite people in the world,“ Cailani added while giving her dad another welcome home hug.