Soldier returns home, surprises daughter

Jacksonville athlete gets special surprise

Author: Tim Pulliam, General assignment reporter, tpulliam@wjxt.com
Elizabeth Berry, Evening assignment manager, beth@wjxt.com
Published On: Feb 28 2014 09:18:55 PM EST   Updated On: Mar 01 2014 12:34:39 AM EST
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Army Sgt. 1st Class Marcus Acklin arrived home from a year's tour of duty in Afghanistan on Friday and his first mission back on U.S. soil was to surprise his daughter, Diamond Acklin.

Duval County Schools was in on the surprise. Diamond Acklin was one of the students honored as an All-Conference Athlete at Jefferson Davis Middle School. The ceremony to receive her award was held Friday night at Wolfson High School.

When Diamond was called to accept her award, she got a surprise the 14-year-old will never forget -- her dad.

"I wanted to pass out but I didn't want to make a fool of myself in front of all of these people," said Diamond Acklin.

The surprise was a success and something that dad said meant the world to him as well.

"I am proud of my daughter for her accomplishments in basketball," said Marcus Acklin. "I try to coach her to excel in everything she do, and to be able to make it home to see her after all those years of deploying, missing those days and to see her in this moment is great."

Marcus and Diamond Acklin told Channel 4 they are headed to Red Lobster to celebrate both his homecoming and Diamond Acklin's honor.

"To know that I am All-Conference and I get to see my father makes me feel like I'm the best daughter in the world!" the eighth grade student said.

Unfortunately, Marcus Acklin's visit is just a short one in Jacksonville. He'll have to head back to Mississippi, where he is stationed for a while, and doesn't know yet when he'll be officially back in Jacksonville for good.