CLEARWATER, Fla. — A military father surprised his daughter at work as she was feeding the dolphins at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
Special Agent Gerry Dalrymple with the U.S. Army showed up at the dolphin exhibit last week. He wanted to surprise his daughter, Katheryn.
"It took a couple of seconds for it actually to register who was behind me. I wasn’t expecting him to be back for at least another month so it really caught me off guard," said Katheryn Dalrymple.
Special Agent Dalrymple was deployed to Afghanistan in March 2020 during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Katheryn said she would rely on phone calls to speak to her dad.
"My dad and I are very close so he is a big support system for me so at that point when he left, it was kind of like all this stuff going crazy and he's gone now too. It adds to the extra fear not only are you in a combat zone, but in a pandemic," she said.
"I only got to talk to him when he had Internet and even then it was spotty. I only heard his voice once a month," he said.
Her family lives in Atlanta where her father is based at Dobbins Air Reserve Base. She said the pandemic squashed the opportunities she had with aquariums in Georgia so she moved more than 500 miles away to Florida.
She received an internship with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in July. She hopes to become an animal care specialist.
"I visited as a guest back in 2019 and fell in love with the facility and started working and saving money," she said.
Katheryn visited with her family for about four days before her father returned back to Atlanta.
"I think, it's really nice to kind of have that moment of unity there, you know, and kind of have that nice, hopeful moment," he said.