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A tearful reunion

Matt DeYoung • Oct 21, 2017 at 10:30 AM

As she walked into Tammy Basil’s classroom at Lakeshore Middle School, Sara Dalman couldn’t figure out what she was seeing. 

Sara was supposed to be picking up some supplies for her mom, but when the 13-year-old saw someone sitting at the table in the small office, she worried she had interrupted a meeting.

Then she realized the man sitting at the table was her big brother, Andrew, back home on leave from the U.S. Navy after seven months away from home, and she broke down in tears. 

Sara rushed into her big brother’s arms, while twin brother Connor followed close behind, a huge smile on his face.

“I thought we were interrupting Mrs. Basil at first,” Sara said. “I didn’t recognize Andrew’s face. Then I realized it was him, and I broke down.”

Andrew, 19, is a 2016 graduate of Grand Haven High School. He was planning on attending Grand Valley State University, but at the last minute changed his mind and enlisted in the Navy. 

After boot camp, he attended Hospital Corpsman School in San Antonio, Texas, graduating in March. He began field medic training in April and graduated from that program in June. 

Friday marked his first trip back to Grand Haven since March 20. While planning his visit with his parents, Ryan and Amy Dalman, Andrew hatched the idea of surprising the 13-year-old twins. 

“I suggested it and they came up with the plan,” he said.

Being away from home has brought him closer to his siblings, Andrew said. 

“They call me whenever I’m available to talk,” he said. 

Andrew said his experience in the Navy has been mostly positive, with good days and bad days. 

“The bad days, you don’t sleep at all,” he said. 

At GHHS, Andrew played on the Buccaneers’ football and rugby teams. He said those experiences helped prepare him for life in the military. 

“I learned teamwork in both sports, and toughness from rugby,” he said, adding that he planned to attend the Bucs’ football game at Grand Rapids Union on Friday to watch some of his former teammates in action. 

After his short stint home, he’ll be sent out for deployment to an unknown location. 

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