Toddler ignores military protocol, greets mom

LITTLE FALLS, Minn. – Cooper Waldvogel loves his mom more than military protocol. And Facebook loves him for it.

The 3-year-old boy could not wait for his mom to be dismissed after serving nine months in Afghanistan with the National Guard's 114th Transportation Company based in Chisholm.

Tuesday morning he ran to her while she and her fellow soldiers stood in line waiting to be dismissed.

"I was longing to hold him, that's all that I thought about," said his mother, Kathryn Waldvogel, 25.

Her first sergeant told her and the other soldiers they would file in to the auditorium and would be dismissed shortly. But they were not to say hello to family members because it would take too long.

Cooper took care of that, running to 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," she said. "He just kept smiling like he was in awe of me," she said.

A KARE 11 photographer captured the moment, which was then posted on KARE 11's Facebook page. Tens of thousands of people liked and shared the posted, not to mention commented on it.

"This one," she said while reading the posts. "It was probably the most tear jerking, humbling 26 seconds I've seen in a long time."

The support from the public and her son is overwhelming.

"It melts my heart, it's so great," she said.

But this wasn't the first time little Cooper and his family had to wait for a loved one's arrival.

"He kind of did the same thing for me," said Cooper's dad, Adam Waldvogel, 26.

Kathryn's husband returned from serving in Afghanistan with the National Guard in December. He was with the 850th Horizontal Engineers.

With their deployments overlapping, Adam and Kathryn haven't seen each other in 19 months.

"I can't even imagine that's she's home right now," he said with a smile.

That means Cooper's been without his parents in the same spot for more than a third of his life.

"He's the definition of resiliency, that's for sure," said Adam.

So you can understand why Cooper wants it to last as long as possible.

"Can we play all day," he asked his mom.

"Sure. What do you want to play next?" she replied.


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