Graduation day was much more than just a milestone for a Bellevue West High School senior.
On graduation day, Abigail Allen thought the highlight of her day would be walking across the stage to receive her high school diploma, but instead, it was being surprised by her mom on stage, who was released early from duty overseas in South Korea to make it back for her graduation.
As Allen was on stage receiving a ‘fake’ diploma from a school administrator, her mom, Captain Angela Humm snuck up behind her with the real diploma.
“They said, there’s someone behind you. So I turned around and it was her,” said Allen as her mother hugged her. “So I turned around and it was her. It took me a second, and then it clicked – that’s mom. And I was like, ‘wait, I know you. You’re not supposed to be here.’”
Humm, who was stationed at an air base in Osan this past year, says the planning started in September.
“I’ve been working on this surprise for Abigail for a very long time. And it wasn’t easy. It took a lot of work from the Colonels out in Osan and from the school board and everyone else on this end. It had to be approved from officials out in Texas.”
Humm, who enlisted in the Air Force seven years ago, says it was a little over a year ago when she found out she had orders to deploy to Korea. It later dawned on her that she may not make it back her daughter’s graduation. “Her response was way beyond her years,” Humm recalled. “She said, ‘you know what, Mom – it’s okay. We knew this could happen when you enlisted, we’ve been lucky so far and it’s just our turn.’”
Humm’s request to leave Korea a few weeks early was approved in March, but she says she was fearful something could keep her from making it home on time.
”I began to have a little more hope that it was going to happen this past March, but to be quite honest, until the wheels left the ground in Korea on Thursday, I was not one hundred percent sure,” said Humm. “Anything can happen with the military – something political can happen and you just never know. But thankfully, everything went without a hitch.”
Humm landed in Omaha Thursday evening and stayed at a hotel until graduation morning. Only a handful of people knew, including her husband.
“It was quite the journey. She’s been laying low these past couple of days,” said Paris Humm, Abigail’s stepdad. “Abigail has eleven brothers and sisters so the hardest part was keeping it a secret and not letting it slip.”
“It’s been difficult this past year so this has just taken off a lot of weight. It was lifted instantly. It was relieving to be able to hug her and say hello,” said Allen.
As for completing the surprise, Humm says, “mission accomplished.”