Mission accomplished: Returning Marine surprises Dad at breakfast
For the past two weeks, the friends and neighbors of Bedford resident Paul Joyce worked on one very special mission: to surprise the Marine veteran with an unexpected visit from his son, Steven.
Marine Lance Cpl. Steven Joyce, 28, a member of the 1st Combat Engineers, 1st Marine Division, had been deployed to Afghanistan since September, but unbeknownst to his father, he returned to the States this month.
So before the sun rose on Saturday, Hodgdon was driving to Boston's Logan International Airport to meet the young Marine as he arrived from Camp Pendleton, Calif., while another group of friends whisked the elder Joyce off to Poor Boy's Diner in Londonderry.
"Hi, Dad," he said.
Months of separation faded away as the two Marines embraced, the proud father wiping away the tears that began to flow so freely. A small audience of fellow diners and friends clapped.
"So, does this mean your account isn't really frozen?" his father said with a laugh.
Paul Joyce, who served in both Desert Shield and Desert Storm as well as in Beirut, reflected on how times have changed and how emails and Skype sessions have replaced envelopes and stamps.
A proud Marine family, Steven's sister, Kelli Joyce, is a sergeant in the Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 2, 2nd Marine Division. Sgt. Joyce has completed three tours in Afghanistan and is now based out of Cherry Point, N.C.
"They're a very proud family and really take pride in serving and protecting our country," said Patty Gale, a planning and zoning assistant for the town of Bedford who got to know the family over the holiday season when she was putting stars on the town's Christmas tree in each Marine's honor.
"You go in there and do your job, you do what you've been trained for," he said. "But when you're the parent, things are a lot different.
Lance Cpl. Joyce will be in the Granite State for several weeks before returning to California.
Father and son will be spending plenty of time together until then, visiting with friends, going to the target range and simply enjoying each other's presence.