Reporting Holly Wagner
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Saturday morning was an emotional and exciting one for dozens of military families as 100 soldiers from Minnesota’s Red Bull division arrived at the National Guard’s Airlift.
The Red Bulls are part of the largest deployment of the National Guard since World War II. The soldiers provided security during the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. At the Bloomington Armory, they received a warm welcome.
Sgt. Mike Couture, of Crystal, said that a “tremendous feeling” came over him when he stepped off the bus and saw his family.
But he didn’t expect his teenage son, Connor, to be so tall.
“He’s 5 inches taller than when [Mike] left,” Couture’s wife said.
Couture wasn’t the only Red Bull surprised to see how his children had grown. Maj. Matthew Heffron, of St. Paul, saw his daughter, Abigail, for the first time since she was a newborn.
“I haven’t seen her since she was a week old baby, other than on the computer,” he said.
Abigail was born in the middle of his deployment. Heffron says his wife, Erika, is the real trooper of the family.
“Taking care of the house and three kids, by yourself, is quite a bit of work,” Heffron said. “She was a soldier at one point, and I think it shows.”
Erika will now have some much needed help as her husband returns home. She described his return as surreal.
“My heart does the flutter still,” she said. “I don’t know how to explain it. Other than that, it’s wonderful to have him back.”
The final group of Red Bulls is set to return home on Sunday.