HAGERSTOWN -- Niamh McDonnell paused in mid-cupcake Thursday afternoon, her eyes lighting up and her icing-covered mouth breaking into a smile.
"Daddy!" she yelled, getting up from the table and running to the uniformed man at the door of the Busy Bees classroom.
Although she is just 3 years old and had not seen Rhyan Tetrault in nearly a year, Niamh had no trouble recognizing her father when he walked into the room at the Children's Learning Center at Hagerstown Community College.
"The last time I saw her was before I deployed. The Fourth of July weekend," said Tetrault, who returned from an eight-month tour in Afghanistan in April, but had been in Gulfport, Miss., training for his next deployment before getting leave to see his daughter.
Tetrault, an E0-2 heavy equipment operator, said he had been assigned to Bagram Air Base and Camp Leatherneck during his deployment in Afghanistan. Despite being half a world away, he tried to keep in contact with Niamh, calling her frequently near her bedtime and listening to her sing bedtime songs.