A U.S. Army National Guard soldier made a surprise visit last Thursday to his son that he hadn’t seen in a year while away on duty in the Middle East.
Specialist Chris Larkin flew into New York from Texas and headed straight to Ben Franklin Elementary School in Shrub Oak to reunite with his son Sean, a second-grader.
Principal Patricia Moore slipped into the school library where the class had gathered holding a large sign that said, “Welcome Home.” Sean then turned around and saw his dad. Sean ran and leaped into father’s arms while his classmates and school staff cheered.
Larkin, who worked with Moore and second grade teacher Kathy Nash to set up the surprise, thanked his commanders for helping him as well.
Larkin had returned from a nine-month deployment to Kuwait in the Middle East a few days earlier. He was one of 300 members of the New York Army National Guard’s 101st Expeditionary Signal Battalion, which is headquartered in Yonkers and has elements in Peekskill and Orangeburg, who returned to New York recently.
The soldiers returned to Fort Hood, Texas from Kuwait on January 25 and began returning home on January 30 after out-processing at Fort Hood. The unit had left the Hudson Valley from Stewart Air National Guard Base on March 17, 2018. They trained for 45 days before deploying to the Middle East.
The soldiers are returning to New York in small groups at airports closest to their homes. The 101st Expeditionary Signal Battalion provides communications support to military units across large distances using satellite communications technology.