Bell Intermediate student Julian Labunog and Enders Elementary student Elizah Labunog received a sweet surprise Wednesday when their mother, U.S. Army Reservist Dely Labunog, came home two weeks early after serving in Kuwait and Iraq for more than a year. Her husband Fabian Labunog worked with the school principals to coordinate the surprise return.
At Bell Intermediate, Dely dressed up in the school’s Roadrunner mascot to surprise Julian during his math lesson. His classmates cheered as the Roadrunner revealed herself while Julian was unknowingly teaching the mascot about math. Julian was thrilled to see his mom who he believed wasn’t coming home until October at the earliest. At Enders Elementary School, first grader Elizah Labunog was told a special visitor was here from the military, but she did not know it was her mom until she walked through her classroom door.
Dely, who graduated from Rancho Alamitos High School, has been in the service for 12 years.
“It was hard being away from them for more than a year, but I would look forward to our happy times when we could talk on the phone,” Dely said. “Now I’m home and in my happy place.”
Bell and Enders are located in the Garden Grove and are part of the Garden Grove Unified School District.