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Military family reunites during surprise event at Lewiston school
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Military family reunites during surprise event at Lewiston school

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LEWISTON -- After serving for almost a year in Iraq, a local Army Reserve Sergeant has returned home in time for the holidays. With help from the local community, Dustin Brethouwer organized a surprise reunion with his kids and was able to receive a warm welcome at the same time.

On Monday, Aug. 31, Lewiston Consolidated School students lined the blocks leading up to the school with roughly 200 flags donated by the VFW Post 1077 Beatrice and posters welcoming Brethouwer home. Meanwhile, his kids Taylee, 7, and Colton, 5, played on the school’s playground, unaware of what was about to happen.

When the two saw Brethouwer, they yelled ‘Daddy!’ and ran to hug him, with tears flowing from the family and onlookers alike.

Dustin’s wife, Shawna, said they were only planning to surprise the kids, and were surprised and thankful themselves for Lewiston’s staff and students providing a special welcoming event.

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“I thought it would be something great for our kids and our community to be involved in, too…I think it’s important to teach kids to respect our soldiers, respect our armed forces and respect the flag,” Lewiston Principal Julie Smith said. “I wanted them to see that, and know that he’s really serving for all of us.”

Brethouwer said he wanted to join the Army after witnessing the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He attended basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and Advanced Individual Training at Red Stone, Alabama, and has served in the Army Reserves for 12 years.

This was his second tour with the Army Reserves, with the first being in Qatar from 2017-2018. Both tours were for Operation Inherent Resolve with 295th Ordnance Company, which has units in Kearney, Hastings, Lincoln and St. Joseph, Missouri.

Brethouwer thanked the Ordnance and its soldiers for their 100% successful mission completions, and said the Army has fulfilled him by allowing him the experience to serve the country, travel and work with “strangers who are your ‘brothers and sisters’ immediately.”

Shawna said she hopes Dustin will be home forever now, but that the family is anticipating at least one more deployment before Brethouwer plans to retire after 20 years of service.

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