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Tech. Sgt. Mike Tower greets his mom, Sally Deschenes, from Litchfield, while his sister Donna Brown, also from Litchfield, watches, at Cactus Jack's, on Thursday, in Manchester. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)

Surprised mother welcomes son home from Afghanistan

MANCHESTER — At first, Sally Deschenes didn’t notice the man walking toward her table at Cactus Jack’s restaurant Thursday night.

But, after a tap on the shoulder from her daughter, Laurie Forrence: “Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” Deschenes, who is battling breast cancer, shouted as she saw her son, Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Mike Tower of Weare, for the first time in months.

“Oh my goodness. I can’t even talk now,” Deschenes, of Litchfield, said after (finally) releasing her son from a hug. “I’m so glad he’s home. I didn’t like him being over there.”

Forrence and Tower set up the encounter, which was a surprise for most of the family. She said Cactus Jack’s is her mother’s favorite restaurant and that they’d set up the surprise by telling the whole family that Tower would be arriving at the airport the next day.

“It’s wonderful,” she said of her brother’s return. “Hopefully, he’ll stay home now.”

Count among those surprised Tower’s daughter, Kayleigh, a sophomore at Keene State College, who shrieked upon seeing her dad for the first time since he left for a deployment to Afghanistan five months ago.

“Are you trying to make me cry, man?” Tower said when asked to describe his emotions after hugging his daughter and mother. “Pure elation, I think.”

While the family cried out, Tower was treated to a standing ovation from most of the restaurant’s patrons.

“It feels great,” Tower said. “It’s exciting to see my family.”

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