Hope restored: Sailor surprises children with homecoming

Navy Chief Petty Officer Rodriquez Hope returns after 7-month deployment

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – A Clay County family was made whole again Tuesday when Navy Chief Petty Officer Rodriquez Hope returned home from deployment.

Hope spent seven months in Japan as an administrative chief, and News4Jax was there as he surprised his children at their schools Tuesday.

“I'm so glad to have y'all in my arms. I missed you so much,” Hope said as he held his sons, Jarod, 10, and Malik, 7. “It was a long seven months. I'm home now.”

Hope said a lot has changed while he was away from his children.

"(He) got taller and his hair grew,” Hope said. “It's surreal, you know? I never thought this day would come. It's been a long time."

Now that their dad is back home, the boys already have plans.

“(I want to) play with him (and) make sure I spend every moment with him,” Jarod said.

After reconnecting with his sons, Hope headed to Oakleaf Junior/Senior High School to surprise his daughter, Jalana.

It was an emotional reunion as she leaped into her father's arms for a long-awaited hug.

“This is my baby, right here,” Hope said as he held his weeping daughter.

She said it's been hard the last seven months without her dad.

Hope's wife, Shaundricka Hope, was by his side Tuesday as he reunited with their children and said she's glad to have her helpmate back home.

"It's been hard. I'm a super mom, from volleyball to football practice to Boy Scouts,” Shaundricka Hope said. “I'm just very excited for him to be home and share those duties."

Hope has been deployed eight times. He said he looks forward to taking the family to Disney World soon.

Through a grant from the Department of Defense, Clay County schools have a military family counselor on site.

Shaundricka Hope said it really helped lift some weight off her shoulders by providing services for her children while her husband was deployed.