W. MI soldier returns from training, surprises family

Allie Downing returns from training with the National Guard to surprise her family on May 24, 2017.

KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — A West Michigan soldier came home Wednesday to surprise her children and other young family members.

Allie Downing is home after four months of basic and individualized training with the National Guard. But it was her mother, Nichole Harris who used military precision to arrange the surprised for Downing’s children and two brothers.

“I didn’t know what to expect. I was just so excited to get home to the kids. I missed them all,” said Downing.

The first stop was the West Michigan Aviation Academy where Downing’s brother Aaron Harris is a freshman with hopes of becoming a pilot.

The next surprise reunion happened at Brookwood Elementary in Kentwood where her second-grade daughter Anastasia and Downing’s third-grade brother Erik attend.

The final stop was to surprise her children Will and Ali at Kentwood’s Valleywood Middle School.

Downing joins the ranks of those special Americans who serve their country, knowing full well the sacrifices they and their family will have to make.

“Family is everything to me so having to leave them, packing you bags to leave and say, ‘I’ll see you later,’ it is scary sometimes. You sign up for a lot more than just wearing the uniform,” said Downing.

While it hurts to be away, reunions like this help ease the pain and serve as a reminder.

“Treasure the time you have together,” Downing said. “When you just get to get in your car and go up to the supermarket — just treasure that time with mom or dad or with your son or daughter.”

Downing will spend the next 10 days on leave with her family before heading off to her next assignment.