"Can you be ready in 15 minutes?" U.S. Army Cpt. Keith Robinson had already told his daughter that he wouldn't be able to leave Afghanistan in time to see her graduate from Columbia University. But then his commander found a way.
Robinson hopped on a military flight, traveled more than 6,500 miles, and on Monday, he walked on to Columbia University's campus in New York, still dressed in fatigues and hauling a duffel bag. When his daughter Ruby Robinson received her engineering diploma, she turned and saw the father she hadn't seen for half a year. It was a surprise and an emotional reunion for both.
"We've gone back and forth and I had to let her know that it wasn't possible for me to be here because -- up until about two weeks ago -- it didn't look like this was going to happen," he said before the ceremony.
"But when I saw her, it was all worth it."'
After more than 14 hours flying from Kuwait to Washington, D.C., as well as additional hours traveling domestically, Robinson greeted his daughter with a bouquet of flowers.
"To have him here in the flesh means so much to me," she said. "I didn't think it was possible."
Columbia University was in on the secret and posted video of the reunion.
"I really didn't expect him to be there, and I was kind of upset about that, but I knew that he had other duties to do in Afghanistan," she added. "When he came I was so excited."