After year in Afghanistan, Army mom surprises 5-year-old son

Army Sgt. Maryann Adam surprised her son, Davion Dixon at the Veterans Day assembly in Bloomington after being in Afghanistan for the past year.
  • SERVICE WOMEN BY THE NUMBERS

  • 213,823: Active duty women in the military as of October 2010

    1.8 million: Women veterans in the U.S.

    1: Military woman held as prisoner of war during Civil War

    90: Military women held as prisoners of war during World ...

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  • SERVICE WOMEN BY THE NUMBERS

    213,823: Active duty women in the military as of October 2010

    1.8 million: Women veterans in the U.S.

    1: Military woman held as prisoner of war during Civil War

    90: Military women held as prisoners of war during World War II

    35,000: Military women in World War I

    7,500: Military women in Vietnam

    Source: Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation

Five-year-old Davion Dixon perched with his legs crossed near his chest, his camouflage T-shirt vanishing him into a dark green auditorium chair.

It was a fall Friday morning in Bloomington, and Davion was among the rest of the school district crammed together to honor the veterans on stage for Veterans Day.

But soon, the quiet kindergartner would be thrust from his hiding spot to center stage for a surprise visit from his very favorite soldier - his mom.

Though Davion was unaware, Sgt. Maryann Adam of the U.S. Army was home for the first time in a year.

"I've been a soldier for nine years, and I'm so proud to serve our country and do what we do," Adam said.

But like many soldiers, with her duty came sacrifice. Last November, the 28-year-old mother packed up for Bagram, Afghanistan, putting her little boy in the hands of relatives in Placedo.

Adam said the hardest part about leaving was knowing how much Davion depended on her.

"He's really affectionate because it's just me and him, and I miss that bond," she said.

She missed his hugs. She missed his silly questions. She missed watching him mature, she said.

"When you talk to him on the phone, that's the only clue that he's growing. He's speaking clearer, making complete sentences," she said.

Those phone calls became redundant lately, Adam said, as Davion anticipated his mom's return. To satisfy his 5-year-old mind's concept of time, she had told him she'd be returning after Halloween. When that day came and went, Davion got anxious.

"We stopped having conversations then. It was just, 'When are you coming home?'" Adam said.

Her anticipation at the breaking point, too, Adam somehow kept her homecoming a secret until Friday morning, when she darted across stage in front of hundreds of kids, her teary eyes fixed on her son.

His eyes were closed, but a hopeful grin took over his face. Davion was wishing for mom to come home, he said.

By the time his eyelids parted, his mom's hands were wrapped around Davion's tiny belly.

As if they were the only two in the room, Davion's grin burst into a toothy smile, and he rested his cheek on his mom's shoulder.

She picked him up for one of his famous hugs, their camouflage garb indistinguishable from each other's.

Adam and Davion looked forward to a full four days together, filled with family, food, maybe a movie or two and some much-needed catching up.

Adam will be home again for a longer stay in December, and the mother-son team will be together for good when the Army relocates Adam to San Antonio in February.

After the assembly, Davion was still speechless and in shock, but still smiling.

Before he melted into his mom for another hug, he did reveal one thought, though.

"Mama's home," he said.