MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There are currently more than 600 members of the Minnesota National Guard deployed in Kuwait.
This week, we’re proud to share their stories. WCCO-TV’s Reg Chapman and photojournalist Tom Aviles are embedded with the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division at Camp Arifjan.
While business is usual on the base, life is constantly changing nearly 7,000 miles away at home.
The mood there is business as usual. This area and these soldiers are always at a high level of readiness. Nothing has changed with their mission, but we did meet one soldier who is adjusting to life away from his changing family.
Master Sgt. Aaron Hoska says his wife Jenny is his hero for all she has done with their young family while he’s been deployed to Kuwait.
“She reminded me constantly that she was doing it all on her own,” Hoska said. “We actually had our second son Theo, Theodore, in the middle of February.”
Theodore arrived two months after Hoska landed at Camp Arifjan. He was able to travel home on paternity leave to be with his newborn and 3-year-old son Ryan.
“Being home for those three weeks and seeing the development and the growth that [Ryan has] had, you know, in the few months that I had been gone by that point, you know, he’s talking more, running around more, eating different things,” Hoska said.
His return to Kuwait was bittersweet. He missed his family, but knew he had a mission to complete. Focused on his job writing legal reviews for military investigations, he kept busy by creating the “Horns of Justice.”
“It’s a gift for the section. I wanted to kind of give back to the section and have a gift that we can take back home for our office and the armory,” he said.
Instant access is something Hoska doesn’t take for granted. He understands soldiers that came before him 30 years ago did not have social media.
“It’s been awesome being able to just, you know, send that text message home saying you’re OK, or say, ‘Good morning,’ or ‘Good night,’” he said.
For now, he relies on a support system to help his family while he is away.
“We’ve got a great network of, you know, friends and family that helped out, and they’re still helping out a ton at home, but it’s tough now because my wife is back to work,” he said.
Hoska is thankful for all the help and all the support Minnesotans give him and others who are serving and far away from home.
“Cards, care packages, emails, Facebook. We see that and we feel that, it really feels good to know we’re thought of back home,” he said.