Nick Schott is used to his father missing milestone events.
"My father has never seen me wrestle, never seen me play football or run track," said Nick, the son of Army Staff Sgt. Jamie Schott. "Because of the job he does, it's fine. He's serving our country."
But one event Schott did not miss was seeing his son walk across the stage Friday at Goose Creek High School's graduation ceremony.
As Nick stood onstage at the North Charleston Coliseum paying tribute to classmates who plan to join the military, he spoke about his father missing much of his childhood. He got choked up talking about how his father was going to miss his graduation because he was deployed to Kuwait.
As he spoke, his father made his way up a ramp next to the stage, surprising his son and moving the audience to its feet and to tears as the two embraced.
Jamie Schott returned to the United States after a six-month deployment on May 4, three months before he was scheduled to return. He is stationed at Fort Knox in Kentucky and has also been deployed to Iraq four times.
Nick lives in Goose Creek with his mother, Rona Schott, and 15-year-old brother Jaret.
All of them were surprised by Jamie Schott's appearance.
The soldier was at first denied his request to return for the graduation, then plans changed about 10 days later and he was approved to go home.
"It was hard to tell him, 'I'm not going to make it to your graduation,'" Schott said.
When he returned to the states, Schott and his wife, Kimberly, with the help of Goose Creek Principal Jimmy Huskey, hatched the plan to surprise Nick.
"This is priceless, that's for sure," Schott said after the ceremony.
Nick said he had no idea his father was planning to show up.
"I didn't even think about something like this happening," he said after the ceremony. "It's an amazing feeling. It's the best day ever."
Nick plans to attend Trident Technical College and hope-fully go on to a four-year college.
He said he has always dreamed of following in his father's footsteps, but recent anterior cruciate ligament surgery has left him unsure of whether he can join the military.
With the graduation and reunion behind them, the Schotts had just one goal in mind: "We're going to eat at Cookout," they said.
Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or @brindge on Twitter.