Jenny Johnson Manuel
For two of the performers at Heritage Hall on Friday night, it was definitely Christmas At The OK Corral. After a stellar performance and at the end of curtain-call, Hailey and Molly Lipford were summoned by Santa Claus. He told them they had both been very good girls and they were receiving a very special gift this year.
As Santa spoke to them, a uniformed soldier walked on stage.
It was a very emotional moment when they turned and saw their dad, Specialist Chris Lipford for the first time since February. Amid hugs, tears, and applause, the girls have overjoyed as well as their parents and the entire audience.
Chris had collaborated with his wife Kelsey as well as Heritage Hall officials in orchestrating the event. He arrived at Heritage Hall shortly after the performance began, and even though a seat was reserved for him, he chose not to watch the performance for fear one of the girls would see him and spoil the surprise.
Specialist Lipford is a Johnson County native and JCHS Alumni who has been with the Tennessee National Guard 776 Support Maintenance company since 2008 and deployed to Kuwait for the past ten months.
Before being sent to Kuwait, he was employed with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department as a deputy. Now that he has returned home, he will be resuming his employment there.
He says it was an excellent opportunity to be able to serve his country, something he has always wanted to do. He missed his family, but it was easier by keeping in touch with them by video chat on social media and knowing they had a great support system from their church family and also from close friends at the Sheriff’s office.
Saturday night’s performance at Heritage Hall also recognized Specialist Lipford when his daughters presented him with yellow ribbons and a song Yellow Ribbons sung by the entire cast and crew.
Welcome, Home Specialist Chris Lipford and the Tennessee National Guard 776 Support Maintenance Company. We Thank You for your service to our great country.