BRADENTON, Fla.- It was an unforgettable morning for a Suncoast mother and her two children.
Rochelle Andrews has been serving in the Navy for 6 years as an air traffic controller. After 5 months, she returned home Friday, surprising her 7-year-old daughter Serenity, and 8-year-old son Antonio at Ballard Elementary School in Bradenton.
"It's always tough, but this, coming home, is always the best feeling,” said Rochelle Andrews.
"I thought it was going to be someone else that started with 'R-O,' and then they said 'Rochelle.' I know, that's my mom's name,” said Antonio Andrews.
It was an emotional homecoming for Rochelle, who says life as a single mother has not always been easy, but she knew she wanted to be in the military, and with that decision comes sacrifice.
“They're in it with me, you know. They sacrifice probably more than I do. I just want them to be proud of me you know,” said Andrews.
Antonio and Serenity say they've been counting down the days until they would see their mother next, but Friday's homecoming was above and beyond their expectations.
“Really proud 'cause like, she's achieving so much and we're growing bigger and trying to be like mom,” said Antonio Andrews.
Rochelle says she made the decision to enlist in the Navy when Serenity was just a year old, and it's hard enough to be a single parent without the option of being close to her children.
“Right now my ship is in port. So, if I had daycare, if I had somebody else there with me, my children would be with me right now until I actually deploy, but I don't have that. I do have my mom, so I'm lucky,” said Andrews.
Rochelle is under contract until 2018. Her main priority is to support her children and make the most of her time in the navy by moving up and making a difference. She will spend Thanksgiving here with her family and report back to the San Diego naval base in two weeks.