Reporting Jason DeRusha
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – While the Minnesota Vikings were losing to the Oakland Raiders at the Metrodome, a Minnesota soldier was plotting a huge surprise for his wife and family.
Under normal circumstances, Staff Sergeant Matthew Helget usually loves watching the Vikings.
“Any chance I get, I’ll go to a Vikes game,” he said.
He sometimes gets to use his boss’s season tickets, but this time he’s in a suite as part of Military Appreciation Day.
And he’s nervous.
“I’ve been nervous for the last two damn days,” said Matt. “Since I landed, since I’ve been in the hotel.”
His wife thinks he won’t be back from Kuwait until Tuesday. She thinks the family is just at the game to watch an announcement on the scoreboard.
“I recorded a shout out that’ll be on the JumboTron,” he said. “And my family is going to … that’s why they got the free tickets … but they don’t know I’m here to surprise them.”
Matt spends the first half of the game checking them out from afar. And then moves into position for the big surprise.
“I’m really nervous now,” he said from the top of the stairs leading to the field. “I’m glad I took my hat. I keep drying my hands off on it.”
Finally, the family watches his message. As it plays above, Matt moves in to surprise them from behind.
After six months away and weeks of planning, a soldier is reunited with his wife Jaime and their 8-year-old daughter, Maddison.
“Best feeling in the world,” he said afterwards.
Now they will head home to Sleepy Eye with a lot of ground to cover during his two-week leave.
“His birthday was Friday; his 30th” said his mother-in-law, Beth Domeier. “So we’ve got his birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas to try to make it all happen.”
This is Matt’s third deployment overseas. After his two-week leave, he’ll head back to Kuwait for 5-and-a-half months.