More than a game: Surprise! Youngsville tight end Ben Frederick reunited with brother on leave from military
Facebook and YouTube are full of must-see videos of military members surprising their families. Youngsville’s DeAnna Frederick has been surprised by her oldest son, Adam, a lance corporal in the United States Marine Corps, once before.
This time, it was her son Ben’s turn.
Last Friday was senior night at Youngsville High School before the start of the annual Backyard Brawl against Eisenhower. Ben, a tight end, was waiting his turn at the end of the line to be acknowledged before his final high school football game. What he didn’t know was that Adam was waiting in the press box after traveling 22 hours through four airports to surprise him.
“Adam had told him on Saturday night on Skype that his leave had been denied,” said DeAnna Frederick. “So he had no clue. The uncle of the one young man standing two or three people ahead of us was in his uniform and Ben said, ‘I really wish Adam could be here,’ and I said, ‘It’s too bad he’s still in Okinawa.’
“I bold-face lied to my son,” said DeAnna.
Adam Frederick had been away for 17 months at his station in Okinawa, Japan, working as an 1171 water support technician, purifying water from salty or stagnant to water polluted with chemicals. When he put in his request for 27 days of leave, he was denied. He tried again for 17 days. The same day Frederick told his family he wasn’t coming home, his second request was approved.
“I texted my girlfriend first,” said Adam. “She was so happy. Then I said, ‘I should tell Mom and Dad.'”
“We were very excited. Monday morning he texted us about five in the morning and said, ‘Call me when you get up,'” DeAnna Frederick said. “I couldn’t let Ben know why we were so happy.”
His parents took care of the surprise from there. Coaches were notified, the wording on the senior night announcement was fixed and all that needed to happen was for a small town to stay very, very quiet.
“The thing is, my husband was telling people at work and I was like, ‘You can’t tell them that!'” said DeAnna.
Co-workers weren’t the only threat to the secret. Teammates also gave up a few close calls.
“When we were doing warmups on the field, one of my friends said he saw another Marine, but he wasn’t sure. It almost got spoiled right then and there,” said Ben Frederick.
Frederick didn’t see his brother in the Mike Shine Field press box. He didn’t realize his brother was actually there until Adam was right in front of him.
“I really didn’t know what was going on. I thought my parents just changed the wording on my information,”
Ben Frederick said about the P.A. announcer that told the crowd about Frederick’s future military plans, and then introduced Adam.
“When I saw him, it didn’t register that he was here until we were hugging,” Ben said. “I didn’t really know what was going on. I just started hugging him and crying.”
Adam’s trip down the bleachers was completely blank, but that all changed once he hit the grass.
“Does he see me? Does he know I’m here? Is he going to look over? Is he just going to keep going and step on me?” said Adam.
Again, Frederick is no stranger to surprising his family. In 2011, Adam – with Ben’s help – showed up at the door unannounced for Christmas. When the family opened the door, Adam simply greeted them with a “Hi, Mom.”
“Her reaction was a lot like mine (now),” said Ben.
“Ever since I joined the Marines I’ve been like, ‘I want to do one of those,'” said Adam, of the multitude of touching YouTube surprises. “I’m getting pretty good at it, I think.”
Joining the Marines in the first place was a long-time goal for Frederick dating back 12 years. “The culminating factor was when 9/11 happened, and I was in like the third grade. I actually told Mom (I would end up in the military) when I got home that day.”
Being eight years old, most people brushed off Frederick’s goal, but his mother knew he would go through with it. Frederick signed up for the Marines when he was 16, gained approval at 17, and started boot camp at 18.
“It’s a great deal of why Ben is doing what he’s doing,” said DeAnna Frederick.
Initially, Ben wanted to enlist in the Navy as an aviator. But as Ben got older, that plan came to a halt.
“I was too tall for the cockpit,” said Ben.
Plan B was to stick with the Navy and become a corpsman, but a visit to Adam cemented the decision.
“I went to Adam’s graduation and said, ‘Nah, I want to be a Marine,'” said Ben.
Like his big brother.
“Adam’s done a lot ever since he decided to go into the Marines,” said Ben. “With what he’s been doing and the stories he’s told me, he’s been a big influence.”
Adam leaves for Japan on Nov. 10, before finalizing his next move. The Fredericks are hoping for Maryland.
“It would be great because he’d be so much closer to home,” said DeAnna.
Ben seconds that.
“Skype’s helped a little bit, but it’s not like having him here,” he said.
Like right on Mike Shine Field.
“It was a great thing to be able to do for Ben and Adam,” said DeAnna. “It was very exciting for all of us.”