31 Jan 2013

Father-Daughter Soldiers Return Home Safely from Afghanistan

Residents of Vassar, Michigan, welcomed home two of their own on Sunday, when Army Reserve soldiers Master Sargeant (Msg.) Tim Larrison and Specialist (Spc.) Katelyn Larrisonended their yearlong deployment in Afghanistan. The father-daughter team—one of the rare few in the history of the United States—were surprised by a crowd of well-wishers who had spent most of the morning awaiting their arrival. 

"I was so excited to see her [Katelyn's] reaction," Shannon Larrison—Katelyn's mom and Tim's wife. "She immediately started shaking and tears came down her eyes, it was the best." 

"Oh man, a lot of people, it was very exciting, it's nice to be welcomed home," Spc. Katelyn Larrison, 19, told a local news crew. 

"Just seeing the support and the flags, it was bigger than I imagined," her dad said. 

This wasn't the first time he's returned home from war; Msg. Tim Larrison finished a year in Afghanistan in September 2011. A trooper with the Michigan State Police, he was eligible for retirement from the Army Reserves but opted to sign on for another year so he could be deployed with his 19-year-old daughter, an Army Reserves specialist. The duo shipped out in February, 2012.

While her husband and daughter were both overseas, Shannon Larrison opened a beauty salon back home. Running her small business and managing The Allure'a Salon's 15 employees kept her busy while they were gone, she told.

"He thought this would be a great way to keep me out of trouble," she joked to the crowd at the ribbon-cutting ceremony last February. But opening day was bittersweet, she admitted, since she knew that her husband and daughter were about to be deployed. 

"My head and my heart don't match," Shannon told WJRT-TV last year. "I'm happy that he's going to be with our daughter, because to me she's just a little girl. But at the same time, I don't want them to go. I'm happy and sad." 

"I think it's comforting for her that I'll be there and she'll have someone to go to," Msg. Larrison told WJRT before he left. The pair served in the same unit, though in different capacities: She's in communications, while he's with the military police. 

"I'll always be Dad, but at work I'm Master Sergeant," he said. 

While they were away, the family stayed in touch via Skype. Both soldiers' Facebook pages are filled with messages, photos, and good wishes. And it turned out to be a relief that father and daughter were in the same unit. 

"I felt better knowing that he was with her most of the time. And they don't let us know when bad things happen," Shannon explained to WNEM-TV on Sunday. "I had a lot of support here," she added. 

Members of the local VFW, the American Legion, and the Patriot Guard all turned out to welcome the father-daughter duo home, lining the streets with American flags smiling. State Senator Mike Green presented the returning soldiers with a certificate of appreciation, and both the Master Sergeant and the Specialist said they were grateful for the support. 

"The care packages, the letters, it really does mean a lot to the troops overseas, on the mission and it makes it worth it," Msg. Larrison told the crowd as he held his certificate. 

Like much of her generation, 19-year-old Spc. Katelyn Larrison was multitasking while she was stationed overseas: She bought herself a new house, online. 

"I haven't seen it yet, obviously, but I'm excited to get in there and look around," Spec. Larrison told WNEM-TV. 


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