An unusual quiet filled 8-year-old Angelica Monteon’s third-grade classroom just before Christmas break. Classmates whispered to each other wondering what was happening when their teacher began recording Monteon.
Her dad, Xavier Martian, who is serving in the U.S. Coast Guard, surprised her by walking into the classroom with flowers. It was the first time the two had seen each other in five months.
“It feels great to be home,” Martian said.
He arrived in Sequim on Friday afternoon, Dec. 17, after finishing an assignment in Petaluma, Calif., at Operational Specialist training.
Martian and his daughter spent a brief time together in the summer after he was deployed in April to an undisclosed location with the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Active out of Port Angeles.
“He’s spent about 14 out of the last 18 months separated from us,” Athena Martian, his wife, said.
Surprising Angelica proved difficult for the couple.
They didn’t even know when he was getting home until a few days beforehand.
Athena said she fibbed to Angelica about a fake dentist appointment to cover up her drive to the airport for her husband. While holding her dad’s hand coming out of the classroom, Angelica said she was a little overwhelmed by the surprise but kind of anticipated it. She thought he was coming home Saturday.
Christmas came a week early for the family as they opened presents that Friday night.
It’s likely their last holiday in Sequim as Martian has been transferred to Naval Base San Diego and the three of them are moving.
“Our life is so identical to so many Coasties across the country who spend such a little amount of time with their families,” Athena said.
“We are lucky we get to spend our Christmas together, even if it means mid-move. I hope that all our Coasties get the recognition they deserve.”
Angelica’s parents gave her another surprise on their Christmas night — a new Nintendo DSi Gameboy. She’s been saving her allowance for one. When she opened the box, she began crying.
Athena said she wanted the family to enjoy presents before moving trucks came this week.
One thing the family will miss most is the mountains, Athena said, who is from Colorado.
“I love being able to look out and see the snow-capped mountains anytime I want,” Athena said.
“It will be a huge culture shock for me to live in such an urban area. I love the small-town feel. Sequim has been such a lovely area to raise my child. I will be sad to go.”
Angelica and Athena also will be saying goodbye to their grandmother and mother who lives in Woodinville.
“I’m very lucky that my mom is so close,” Athena said. “I am having a hard time facing leaving her.”
Martian was assigned to Port Angeles in August 2009 right after boot camp. His goal is to make the Coast Guard a career. Athena said her husband always has felt a need to serve his country and others.
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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