The 3-year-old boy could not wait for his mom to be dismissed after serving nine months in Afghanistan with the National Guard's 114th Transportation Company based in Chisholm, Minn.
He ran to her Tuesday morning while she and her fellow soldiers stood in line waiting to be dismissed.
"I was longing to hold him, that's all that I thought about," said his mother, Kathryn Waldvogel, 25.
Her first sergeant told her and the other soldiers they would file in to the auditorium and would be dismissed shortly. But they were not to say hello to family members because it would take too long. Cooper took care of that, running to his mother's arms.
"He just kept smiling like he was in awe of me," she said.
A KARE-TV photographer captured the moment and the station posted to Facebook. The responses have been overwhelmingly positive.