Welcome Home, Capt. Pender: WDMCS Mom Surprises Children After 10-Month Deployment

Capt. Keri Pender of the Iowa National Guard returned home to West Des Moines Thursday, April 11, after being deployed to Afghanistan for 10 months.

Before she left the U.S., Pender, who has served with the Iowa National Guard for eight years, told her kids Caleb (sixth grade; Western Hills Elementary), Devin (eighth grade; Stilwell Junior High) and Bailey (10th grade; Valley High School) that she was going to be gone for longer. Little did they know their mom would surprise them at each of their schools.

“It was exciting,” Pender said. “We were trying to guess on how they would react.”

Pender said her next deployment won’t happen for another few years. Now that they are together again, what’s the first thing the Penders will do as a family?

“I think we’re probably going to go out to eat, eat some real American food,” Pender said, laughing. “We’re still out and about surprising people.”

Watch the video above to see the moments when Pender surprises each of her kids at their schools.

Kari Pender Iowa National Guard family