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Military protocol was no match for a 3-year-old boy's love for his mom during an emotional reunion on Tuesday.
As Kathryn Waldvogel, 25, stood in line waiting to be dismissed from the Minnesota National Guard's 114th Tranportation Company after serving nine months in Afghanistan, her son, Cooper, couldn't wait any longer. Soldiers had been instructed to hold off on saying hello to family members until they were formally dismissed, but Cooper had other ideas as he ran across the auditorium at the Inver Grove Heights Training Center and jumped into his mother's arms.
"All of a sudden we had to file into the building and get into formation, and I just look up and Cooper and my mom are right there," Kathryn Waldvogel told NBC affiliate KARE. "He just kept smiling like he was in awe of me."
The heartwarming moment was captured on video by KARE, resulting in an outpouring of support for the family.
"It melts my heart, it's so great," Waldvogel said.
This is the first time in 19 months that the Waldvogel family has been reunited under one roof, as Cooper's father, Adam Waldvogel, 26, served in Afghanistan with the 850th Horizontal Engineers in the National Guard before returning in December.
"He's the definition of resiliency, that's for sure,'' Adam told KARE about Cooper.
With the deployments for Kathryn and Adam overlapping, it's been more than a year and a half since the two have seen each other and been with their son.
"I can't even imagine that's she's home right now," Adam said.