Breanna Smith

Lukeville third-grader Barrett Bourke got a special surprise during lunch Thursday, Aug. 23. His dad, Staff Sergeant Christopher Bourke with the National Guard, came home from a nine-month deployment in Iraq.

Christopher Bourke told his son he would be home on Friday, but wanted to make his homecoming a special surprise and showed up to have lunch with him Thursday.

“I missed you,” were the first words the two exchanged when Christopher scooped him into a big hug after walking through the cafeteria doors.

“We thought this would be special for him. A lot of people don’t get to see what’s behind the story,” Christopher Bourke said. “We have a hard time, but back here it’s much worse for them.”

Bourke is a member of the Louisiana National Guard 189th Regional Support Group at Jackson Barracks in New Orleans.

The Guardsmen were deployed to Taji Military Complex, Al Assad Air Base and Erbil Air Base in Iraq for nine months to provide base sustainment operations in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. These duties included security, logistics and garrison command.

The 139th was also activated during the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in 2010, Hurricane Isaac and the major floods of 2016. In 2017, the 139th was activated once again to provide assistance and support for Hurricanes Harvey and Maria.

Christopher Bourke’s last long-term deployment was in 2010, and he came home two weeks before Barrett was born. This deployment was much more difficult with Barrett waiting at home, Bourke said.

Teachers and students at Lukeville Upper Elementary helped make the homecoming special with music, cake and a welcome home banner. Students waved flags and shouted “thank you” to Staff Sergeant Bourke, who held Barrett close.

Barrett said he was excited to watch movies with his dad, with “Brother Bear” first on the list. Next, he looks forward to a family vacation to the beach.


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