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Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010 02:45 am

SOLDIER%u2008FROM%u2008SANTA

As her 3-year-old sister, Breann, and 6-year-old brother, Lucas, hollered “Daddy! Daddy!” 8-year-old Destiny Ellis said, after great thought, that now she can ask Santa Claus for a Pillow Pet. That’s because she and her siblings 10 minutes earlier had already gotten their original request – their dad, Staff Sergeant Bradley Ellis with the 183rd Fighter Wing out of Springfield, who wasn’t expected home from Balad, Iraq, until January.

After learning the day before that her husband’s third tour of duty would end early, Leslie Ellis organized a surprise homecoming. As Breann, Lucas and Destiny told the Santa Claus at White Oaks Mall what they wanted for Christmas, the bearded man in red pointed to his left, at which point the three Ellis children saw their dad and ran to greet him.

Bradley Ellis, who was deployed on July 6, says the hardest thing about being away is missing his children growing up. Although the family stayed in touch through video chats on the computer and mailed DVDs of Lucas’s football games, Ellis says he’s eager to once again participate in their everyday life.
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