Scuba diving soldier surprises family

NEWPORT, KY (FOX19) - Sea creatures weren't the only things swimming in the tanks at the Newport Aquarium Sunday afternoon.

Two little girls, Chloe Boyd, 11, and Cerridwyn Okolica, 7, had the surprise of their lives as their stepdad returned home from an 8-month deployment in Kuwait.

"I feel amazing.  I got to see my girls.  I got to see my soon-to-be wife.  I got to see my little one," said Ryan Goodwin, who's been deployed with the Navy Reserve.

Goodwin also has a scuba diving background.  He says the family has spent a lot of time at the aquarium together, too.  So, about a month ago, he contacted the people there to set up a very different kind of homecoming for his girls.

"When you're diving you can't really see who's in that mask.  I was thinking that after so long being going, I wanted to really surprise my girls, and do it in a place where they would have a lot of fun," added Goodwin.

Other than showing Goodwin how many teeth she's lost since he's been gone, Cerridwyn had one other thing she wanted to tell him when she found out he was there to surprise her.

"I wish you never been gone for that much days," she said.

For the staff at the Newport Aquarium, Sunday was unlike any other.

"This was the most exciting one we've ever done.  We've done marriage proposals here.  We've done a variety of different things.  This, by far, this was the greatest," said Jennifer Meeks, the dive safety officer at the Newport Aquarium.

Goodwin is expected to be home indefinitely to spend time with those who waited so long to see him.

"Until my unit deploys, or until I get the opportunity to mobilize again, I'll be home with my family, starting my life," Goodwin told FOX19.

Goodwin and his fiancée are soon to be very busy, as they've got an upcoming wedding set for Aug. 10.

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