A son’s unexpected gift arrives just in time

If you can hear the soft, lilting voice of Bing Crosby singing “I’ll be home for Christmas ... You can count on me ...” then you already know that sweet, sorrowful mixture of love and sadness that comes when a soldier away from home longs for a return to family for the holidays.

For U.S. Navy Corpsman Jeremy Fogle and his parents, Daryn and Sue Fogle, that song was brought to life in a surprise visit home Dec. 22, before Jeremy is set to deploy to Afghanistan in early January.

A surprise reunion happened at 1 p.m. Saturday in the middle of the front dining area of Bette’s Place, a favorite restaurant of the Fogles.

As dozens of diners in the full café looked on, Jeremy came from the foyer into the dining room. Sue’s back was turned as KATU reporter Emily Sinovic interviewed her, ostensibly about Bette’s famous cinnamon rolls and other mundane topics. Then Sue heard a soft, “Merry Christmas, Mom.”

She looked up and gasped when she saw Jeremy standing there, offering her a bouquet of roses

“I don’t believe this!” cried Sue when she looked up from her table and saw Jeremy, in full dress uniform.

She stood and hugged Jeremy for a full minute, kissing his cheeks and the top of his head and saying “This is best present ever!”

The Fogle family kept Jeremy’s unexpected visit a secret from Sue for a few days to make the mother-son reunion all the more powerful.

“His mother thought he couldn’t come home for Christmas and was upset he could not get leave before deploying a second time,” said Daryn, who helped orchestrate the lunchtime surprise. Jeremy, a 2005 graduate of Hood River Valley High School, is currently stationed at Camp Lejeune, Ga., and will deploy for his second tour mid-January.

Jeremy is assigned to Marine Battalion 2/9 and will likely be away at least six months. He will be home through Jan. 5.

“He was gone at beginning of Christmas last year and came home about six months later,” said Daryn.

“This is pretty amazing to be here, since I missed being home last year,” Jeremy said. “I’m just really glad to see them.”

Bette’s was selected as the surprise venue by Jeremy’s longtime friend Jillian Jones, whose mother, Gay Jones, owns the popular breakfast/lunch spot. Gay Jones and her staff left a table reserved for the Fogles, and some of the diners knew of the ruse. Everyone was rewarded with a truly heart-warming scene.

“Jillian drove Jeremy in from Portland and we got Sue to the restaurant with the ruse that they ordered her some cinnamon rolls as her Christmas gift,” explained Daryn.

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