DeKALB – Ruthanne Atkinson got the surprise of her young life while bowling at Mardi Gras Lanes on Saturday.
Thinking her brother, Arron, was still with the Army in Afghanistan, she was thrilled when he arrived to surprise her in front of dozens of other bowlers.
“She thought he was still in the mountains in Afghanistan,” said their mom, Wendy Atkinson. “The last she knew, he was in the snow up to his butt.”
A reservist with the 814th MP Co. from Arlington Heights, Arron Atkinson said he was deployed with the Army Corps of Engineers. For the past seven months, his unit has been tasked with the personal security of the engineers.
“I probably saw every large military base in the country,” he said. A 2010 DeKalb High School graduate, Arron Atkinson said he’ll be home for at least 30 days.
The surprise nearly didn’t happen. Arron Atkinson said he was on a plane carrying four other military personnel when it landed in Dallas. He said they sat on the tarmac, waiting to approach the gate, for about 30 minutes. The pilot radioed the tower that he had military personnel on board that would miss connecting flights home if he didn’t get to a gate.
“They got us through the gate pretty quickly, and other passengers gave up their seats so we could get home,” he said. “I guess that just proves there are a lot of nice people.”
Nearly speechless, Ruthanne Atkinson, 9, just nodded that she was, indeed, surprised. Wendy Atkinson said the two are very close, and Ruthanne worried for her big brother’s safety.
Wendy Atkinson said she was not surprised her son chose to join the military after they watched World War II films such as “Pearl Harbor” and “Von Ryan’s Express” numerous times.
The 22-year-old soldier has been awarded the Army Commendation and Achievement medals for exceptional meritorious service. The Commendation Medal was awarded to Atkinson for flawlessly performing above his grade in the execution of 50 outside-the-wire missions from June 17, 2013, to Feb. 1, 2014. His skill secured a successful $2.5 billion construction program.
Atkinson earned the achievement medal for his work during the resident office move to Camp Arena during November. He selflessly dedicated himself to the mission, moving 4 tons of material, saving the army $100,000 in equipment reuse costs.