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Family together at last: Local returns from Afghanistan



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Logan, Jenny and Landen Rascher. Photo by Sara Huggard. (click for larger version)
October 17, 2012 - During his deployment to Afghanistan with the Army National Guard this year, Spc. Logan Rascher marked the passage of time by finding the same star in the sky every night. His wish on the star was always the same—that his wife and son would be safe and healthy.

At home in Michigan, Jenny Rascher was wishing for her husband's safe return.

The stars have finally aligned.

Logan returned home to his family Sept. 22 and met his 5-month-old son, Landen, for the very first time at the Michigan Army National Guard armory in Manistee. After Jenny and Logan, Brandon High School graduates, finally spotted each other amidst the many celebrating soldiers and families, they shared an embrace before she asked, "Would you like to meet your son?"

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"Landen was smiling away—not necessarily at me, at everybody, because that is what he does," says Logan as he holds his son nearly a month after their memorable introduction. True to form and as if on cue, the baby grins widely now, at his father, his mother, and complete strangers nearby. "I didn't talk for awhile. I just wanted to look at my son. It was amazing. I've never been happier. Even if he'd been crying his head off, he's just a great little man."

In June, The Citizen shared how Logan watched from half a world away as his wife, Jenny, delivered Landen in the story, "Love knows no bounds: Dad watches son's birth live via Skype" (see www.thecitizenonline.com).

Logan notes how fortunate he and Jenny were to have nearly daily communication by phone or e-mail. Having the ability to be "present" at Landen's birth by using computer technology was an experience Logan calls "surreal, nothing that can be described in words."

Afterward, he and his friends celebrated with cigars. For about a week after Landen's birth, Logan was able to see his family daily on Skype, until he had to move to a location without internet capability. Two weeks passed before he was able to Skype again and he was stunned by the transformation in his son.

"He had changed completely," said Logan. "It was pretty awesome to see. People with their children on a daily basis don't see these drastic changes until they look back at photos. I wasn't with him 24/7, so I got to see every little change in detail."

Time slowed to a crawl for Jenny and Logan. While Jenny's pregnancy had passed quickly for her, and Logan noted his first few months in Afghanistan (he arrived in January) flew by, once Landen was born time seemed to stand still.

For Logan, he feels like he skipped a year. Now that he is back, he is looking for a job and has sent out his resume and is doing some work around the house, but mostly he is enjoying hanging out with his family and watching as his son starts to hit milestones.

Landen, who Logan has nicknamed "Lando," has just started learning to sit up and Jenny waited until Logan was home to start their son on baby food. Landen is beginning to crawl and just got his first two teeth.

"I came home when he was gaining his personality, and he is a ball of fun," said Logan, who enjoys feeding and rocking his son, cuddling as they watch "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." "I look forward to him saying his first word and crawling around the house—he goes backward pretty well, and is about to go forward."

Jenny is relieved to not have to parent alone and loves to watch father and son interact.

"I love when I randomly walk up on a moment they are having," Jenny said. "It's their moment, but I can see what they are doing. I like that I'm not the sole car provider and can see Logan caring for Landen, too. It's weird having an extra set of hands."

She learned a lot about herself while Logan was gone.

"I learned that even though you don't like what's going on you still have to do it, and you will come out better," she said. "You choose to be happy and choose to live your life the way you are living it. You can still have your weak days and fall down, but you pick yourself up. It's the hardest thing I've ever done."

For Logan, being deployed was just something that needed to be done. Coming home to a beautiful son and a wife who he says has done a fantastic job with their child was his reward.

"Some people say babies are born a certain way, but it's all in the way they are raised," Logan said. "If a child is brought up to be happy and loveable, they will be."

It seems that for Landen Rascher, being happy and loved is something already written in the stars.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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