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Sailor surprises sons with Flour Bluff homecoming

Posted at 6:24 PM, Nov 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-04 19:31:48-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — When members of the military deploy, they leave behind loved ones for extended periods of time, making their homecoming that much sweeter.

U.S. Navy Petty Ofc. Candace Dickson is less than a third into a nearly three-year deployment to Bahrain. That's more than 8,000 miles away from Flour Bluff High School, but she wasn't going to let that distance come between her and a big surprise for her sons and nephew.

“It was like the best day of my life,” she said.

How could it not be? Dickson surprised her sons before the biggest game of the year. Keeping the homecoming a secret wasn't easy; it also took three months of planning.

“The week prior, I reached out to the kids and told them I'd be on a mission and I wouldn't be able to talk to them for about 30-45 days,” she said.

She hid in the parking lot for nearly an hour before making her appearance. The misdirection worked, as her sons senior Johnny and freshman Cameran, could hardly believe their eyes.

Their mother wasn’t thousands of miles away, but mere yards.

“We were thinking she was on some top-secret mission, we really believed it,” said Johnny.

Their cousin, Carlos Slayden, Candace's nephew was also surprised by the sight of his aunt.

“It hit and I realized that my auntie was there, that's when I ran,” he said.

The boys knew family was coming to the game against Veterans Memorial, Flour Bluff’s last of the regular season, but not Candace. Her lengthy deployment means missing lots of memorable moments.

“If I could be here, I would, but due to my commitment to the Navy I have to be gone,” she said.

That separation was made more difficult with the sudden passing of Dakarai Jennings on Oct. 20. Johnny and Cameran have been staying with Jennings and her husband, Braford, and both describe her as a second mother.

“She comes back from her bucket list vacation and the next day she's gone,” Johnny said. “No one expected that.”

“During (Jennings’) memorial I was thinking I wished my mom was here, and then she came,” said Cameron. “It was really a shocker.”

That shock had barely faded when Candace had to go back to Bahrain. Her visit was only a week, but enough to keep her going until the next time she comes home.

“Any second, any minute, any hour with them is priceless,” she said.

Candace said she expects to be back when Johnny and Carlos graduate next spring. In the fall, Johnny heads off to play college football at Virginia Tech. He said there are relatives nearby that he can turn to if he needs until Candace is home for good.