Soldier Plans Perfect Surprise for Family at Dolly Parton’s Stampede: ‘Glad to Be Home’

By Li Yen, Epoch Times
April 3, 2019 Updated: April 7, 2019

Reuniting with family after a long deployment can be emotional. The reunion is usually filled with tears, laughter, hugs, and gratitude.

When Army National Guard Sgt. Bryan Samsel, of Missouri, finally returned home after his 1-year deployment in Kuwait and Jordan ended, he orchestrated a memorial homecoming at Dolly Parton’s Stampede to surprise his wife and kids.

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Posted by Bryan Samsel on Friday, November 10, 2017

Dolly Parton’s Stampede—a dinner complete with a horse performance—is a special show for Bryan because that was the last big event his family was at while his dad was still alive.

“He passed away five years ago … [It’s] monument[al] just coming back here as a family,” Bryan told

Speaking to the News-Leader, he said: “My wife loves the show. I love the show. My whole family loves the show.”

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Posted by Dolly Parton's Stampede on Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Knowing his wife, Shannon Samsel, had a hard time while he was away, Bryan sought the help of several family members, and of course, Dolly Parton’s Stampede, to give her a special surprise.

“I just wanted to do something special for her,” Bryan said, according to Inside Edition. “I expect her to cry, maybe beat me up.”

Posted by Bryan Samsel on Wednesday, September 27, 2017

On that particular Saturday night in March, Shannon attended the Dolly Parton’s Stampede in Branson, thinking it was a family outing to celebrate her birthday as well as Bryan’s sister Kelli’s birthday.

While Shannon was watching the Branson show, she was pulled up to the sandy arena to play the Bucket Brigade.

Unbeknownst to Shannon, Bryan was secretly hiding outside the arena.

Posted by Shannon Samsel on Thursday, July 12, 2018

The announcer then ushered in one more player to join in the game.

When Shannon saw that player was Bryan, she was caught off guard. She thought he was supposed to be back in April!

Sergeant Surprises Family at Dolly Parton's Stampede

It was a special day at Dolly Parton's Stampede as a Sgt. Bryan Samsel surprised his wife after returning home from a year deployed in the Middle East.

Posted by Fox News on Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Seeing Bryan clad in military fatigues suddenly show up at the arena with a bouquet of flowers, a tearful Shannon instantly dropped her bucket and leaped into her husband’s arms.

The audience cheered enthusiastically as the couple shared a warm embrace.

As the emotional reunion unfolded, the Samsels’ 4-year-old son, Axton, jumped with joy.

Posted by Bryan Samsel on Saturday, September 8, 2018

“We are so very honored to be a part of Sgt. Bryan Samsel’s homecoming! His family has many memories here and we were so happy to be a part of this very special day,” Bryan Cossiboom, Dolly Parton’s Stampede GM, said.

“On behalf of everyone at Dolly’s Stampede, we thank Sgt. Samsel and his family for their service and sacrifice.”

Following the deployment, Bryan will return to work as a window clerk for the U.S. Postal Service.

“I’m glad to be home,” Samsel told the Branson Trilake News. “I’m looking forward to spending some time with Shannon, Axton, 4, and Addison, 1 (the couple’s children), and making some great memories.”

Having a military husband deployed overseas can be difficult for any wife, who not only is without her other half for the duration of the deployment, but is required to take on extra roles and responsibilities. Hence, having Bryan finally arrive home safely was undoubtedly a time of celebration for Shannon.