Even if Sgt. Douglas couldn’t see Gabby win the gold in person, the surprise visit to the trials, which marked the first time he’d seen her in nearly two years, resulted in a joyful reunion. Douglas held up an American flag with “Go Gabby Douglas, Love, Dad” on the front and his daughter had no idea he was in the crowd.
For much of the last several years, Douglas, who has done three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, has made do with YouTube videos of his daughter’s routines as he served with the 203rd Red Horse civil engineering squadron, either in Virginia Beach or in Kandahar. Although his last tour ended in October of 2011, when he showed up to see her qualify for the U.S. Olympic team, it was one of the rare times he has seen Gabby compete in person.