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Gloversville siblings get a special surprise

Marine Cpl. Lymon Barnett makes memorable visit to his siblings

U.S. Marine Cpl. Lymon Barnett stands with three of his siblings, Dominic Barnett, Andrew Brae Jr. and Aleiyah Brae, at Gloversville Middle School on Friday after he suprised them by secretly returning home for the first time in a year and a half. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon

GLOVERSVILLE — A series of family reunions unfolded at three city schools on Friday when a Marine made an unannounced trip home for the first time in over a year and surprised five of his siblings.

Cpl. Lymon Barnett has been stationed in Japan for the past year and half, maintaining contact with his large family in the city over Skype and FaceTime. Barnett was scheduled for leave time in December, but arranged to have it pushed up by a month and a half to surprise his younger siblings with an early return home.

“I wanted to be able to come home and surprise my family. When you’re away for so long you don’t really get to see them. It’s harder on them than it is on me, because I’m busy and I’m working all the time and they’re just here doing their normal stuff,” Lymon Barnett said.

Barnett’s mother, Kim Francisco, and stepfather, Andrew Brae Sr., were in on the plan, with Francisco sneaking her son into the family home late Thursday night after picking him up from the airport and ensuring none of his siblings saw him before he appeared in each of their classrooms on Friday.

“It’s hard with the kids, you want to tell them, but we pulled it off,” Andrew Brae Sr. said of the secret he and his wife kept for over a month.

Gloversville Middle School student Dominic Barnett, right, reacts when his brother, U.S. Marine Cpl. Lymon Barnett, walks into his classroom on Friday to surprise him with his first visit home in a year and a half. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

Francisco coordinated the surprise with administrators at each of her children’s schools and around 8:30 a.m. the Marine began making his rounds at Gloversville Middle School to greet his three siblings, Dominic Barnett, Andrew Brae Jr. and Aleiyah Brae, in each of their classes.

School staff entered the kids’ classrooms ahead of the Marine to let teachers know that the event they had discussed was about to happen, then Cpl. Lymon Barnett walked in, saying hello to his brother or sister, each of whom looked at him wide eyed before getting up to give him a hug.

None of the kids anticipated the surprise homecoming, not even Dominic Barnett who was wearing his older brother’s Marine sweatshirt that day at his mother’s suggestion.

Dominic Barnett quickly took to joking with his older brother saying how surprised he was to see the Marine’s hair had grown back, while Andrew Brae Jr. seemed overwhelmed with joy into speechlessness.

“It was emotional,” he said afterwards.

U.S. Marine Cpl. Lymon Barnett hugs his brother, Andrew Brae Jr., at Gloversville Middle School on Friday after secretly returning home for the first time in a year and a half to surprise his siblings. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

Cpl. Lymon Barnett spent a few minutes chatting with his siblings and his parents who had accompanied him on his stealth mission in the hall at the middle school before sending the students back to class and heading to Kingsborough and Boulevard elementary schools to surprise his sisters Adriana and Ava Brae.

At Kingsborough, Ava Brae hugged her brother when he walked through the door and gave two thumbs up when she was asked what she thought of the surprise. She was able to give her brother a surprise in return, a certificate she made with school secretary Deborah Ash the day before telling her brother why he was her hero.

“I told her that we were doing special letters for siblings that have people in the military, and that we were going to special deliver it to you, but she didn’t know that she was going to be the special delivery person,” Ash said.

At Boulevard, Adriana Brae was momentarily distracted from the surprise appearance of her brother, going to her father who she saw first for a hug before she was shocked and delighted by the sight of Cpl. Lymon Barnett standing beside her, throwing her arms around him.

“I dreamed about Lymon coming to visit me in my classroom. I watched videos on Youtube about brothers or sisters or parents coming home to their kids,” she said.

U.S. Marine Cpl. Lymon Barnett hugs his sister, Adriana Brae, at Boulevard Elementary School on Friday after secretly returning home for the first time in a year and a half to surprise his siblings. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

Lymon gave each of his siblings one more hug before leaving, saying he would see them when they got home from school, his main goal for his 25 day leave.

“Being able to come home and see them means the world to me,” he said. “I’m trying to spend as much time with them as I can while I’m home, I don’t care what we’re doing as long as we’re all together.”

Both the Marine and his mother said the surprise homecoming went perfectly thanks in part to support from school staff members.

“Everybody opened up their schools, it was awesome,” Francisco said.

While she was happy to help her son surprise all of her children, Francisco said she also saw it as a way to make sure her son got a proper welcome home.

U.S. Marine Cpl. Lymon Barnett answers questions from students at Kingsborough Elementary School on Friday after he surprised his sister, Ava Brae, by returning home for the first time in a year and a half. The Marine was accompanied by his mother Kim Francisco, stepfather Andrew Brae Jr., and brother Vittorio Barnett while visiting his five siblings at three schools in the Gloversville Enlarged School District. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

“If I had it my way there’d be banners and flags everywhere, he definitely deserves a heroes welcome home,” Francisco said. “He’s a hero. Helping to establish our freedom he sacrificed his own freedom. He deserves all of the recognition.”

“We’ve gone through an entire year of holidays and birthdays and celebrations and a lot of different things in our family without him here so for him to be able to come and surprise him and us to be able to turn it around and show how much we love and appreciate him it was great.”

Ava Brae introduces her brother U.S. Marine Cpl. Lymon Barnett to her class at Kingsborough Elementary School on Friday after he surprised her with his first visit home in over a year and a half. Their brother, Vittorio Barnett, looks on. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

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