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Mom surprises sons after being deployed 10 months

By Fran Gonzalez | Feb 14, 2020
Courtesy of: RSU 3 Superintendent Charles Brown Jeune Schneider, standing, suprises her two sons, Levi, left, and Luke, as they eat lunch at Mount View Elementary School Feb. 10. After being stationed in Poland for the last 10 months, Schneider said, this has been the longest she has ever been away from her sons.

Thorndike — A military mom, away since last April with the Army National Guard, surprised her two sons Monday while they ate lunch at Mount View Elementary School.

In an interview with The Journal Feb. 13, Jeune Schneider said she is a culinary specialist with the Guard. Her service is usually limited to one weekend a month plus two weeks a year, but for the last 10 months, she has been stationed in Poland.

Her sons, Levi, 7, in second grade, and Luke, 9, in third grade, were thrilled, but took it in stride. “I snuck up behind them," Schneider said, "but Levi saw me and said, 'Mom what are you doing here?'”

Her husband, Mark Schneider, is retired from the Army and said they are a military family. Having served in the Gulf War, Mark said he knows what it is like being deployed, but now has an understanding and an appreciation of the other side of the equation — what it is like to be a single parent. “It’s different when you are the sole caregiver,” he said.

Neighbors have been a big help, Mark said, pitching in to watch the boys when he is not available. One neighbor, Garrett, has taken the boys fishing and is known as “Luke’s fishing buddy.” Jeune’s mom also helped with the boys, Mark said.

“We spent a lot of time fishing on the boat this summer,” he added.

To get through the many months apart, Mark said, the family communicated twice a week through a video app. “Between the two boys, I had little time to talk to Mom,” he said.

“She is home,” Mark said. “That’s all that matters.”

The family now is planning several outings to be together, one to Boston, a Fourth of July camping trip to Rangeley and a family get-together for Sunday, so everyone can welcome Jeune home.

Jeune said Poland was interesting, with its castles and old history. She was responsible for receiving food trucks and making sure all the soldiers were fed.

“It was the first time I have been away for that long,” she said. “I got back on Friday, Feb. 7, and I really wanted to surprise them, but I was not released until Saturday.”

Regional School Unit 3 Superintendent Charles Brown has known the boys since they were in kindergarten at Mount View Elementary School when he was principal there. “He wanted to be part of (the surprise), and helped Mark set it up,” Jeune said.

Mark also had a surprise for Jeune when he picked her up. “I made her close her eyes,” he said, before showing her his homecoming gift of a brand new car.

Jeune said she is happy to be back and “to have a family again.”


(Courtesy of: Superintendent Charles Brown, RSU 3)
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