Soldier surprises her family a few days early

Posted at 7:44 PM, May 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-24 19:44:09-04

KENTWOOD, Mich. -- A soldier in West Michigan is on her way to her military career with the National Guard, and surprised her family when she came home a few days early.

"I'm so excited to see them," said Private Alexandria Downing to FOX 17 Wednesday, just a moment before first surprising her younger brother at West Michigan Aviation Academy.

Walking down the hallway at the Academy, Downing walked into her younger brother's classroom when he ran up to her in tears.

"This is a shirt I got us all," her brother Aaron Harris showed our cameras, "It says, 'Proud Army brother. Most people never meet their hero, I grew up with mine.'"

Harris, a freshman at the WMAA, says he's been wearing that shirt under his uniform all week anticipating his sister coming home sometime soon.

And then round two: Downing, her brother, and their mother Nicole Harris drove to surprise her younger brother and step-children at Valleywood Middle School and Brookwood Elementary School.

Opening the classroom door just before school let out at Brookwood, Downing's younger brother Airick Harris and her step-daughter Anastasia Williams ran into her arms.

"When I saw Allie, I dropped my book, pretend this is my book," she said, "I dropped it and then I ran all the way over there just to give her a hug!"

Private Downing just returned home for 10 days after completing her basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. The same training grounds where the teacher of Downing's younger brother and step-daughter completed his basic training years prior.

For Downing, beginning her military career was a dream for as long as she can remember, and it's come after tackling obstacles including her health.

"I was not on the greatest path, just growing up still young, still trying to get there, school just wasn’t working out so well," recalled Downing.

"I never doubted her for a minute," said her mother.

For the next 10 days Downing and her family will enjoy their time together before she learns where she'll go next with the National Guard.

"There’s so many young people on the wrong path right now and I didn’t want to follow along that," said Downing.

"Being back and giving these kids something to look up to--now my youngest son even says he wants to join one day. I just want to show them, you don’t have to be a statistic. You can do whatever you put your mind to."